Hello Dive Community!
After a far too lengthy hiatus, we’re happy to report that beginning Tuesday, June 2, Float N’ Flag will be re-opening and resuming regular operating hours. That said, and as you’d expect, we are not yet back to normal on everything else, so we wanted to let you know a few things in advance before you come in. Rest assured, in keeping with our usual safety focus, we are taking appropriate steps to protect our staff and yourselves, but your in-store experience will look and feel a little different. We apologize that the shop will not be a social gathering place for the next little while, but we’re doing our best to keep things safe for all. There are lots of people in our community with new babies in their families, health compromised seniors at home, police/fire/medical department personnel (thanks for all you’ve done), front line health workers, essential services workers and of course dive store staff that must all remain safe and healthy for you to enjoy the coming months of diving. Please read the following carefully, as your adherence to and respect of these new procedures is of the utmost importance.
This document will outline what you can expect when you need to get into the store for service, shopping or student course registration or fills. Please be patient with us as we adjust to the new normal and if you have suggestions for improvement, please e-mail [email protected]. It is our sincere hope that we can continue to deliver the outstanding service you have come to expect. As restrictions lift, we’ll make appropriate changes to these processes and procedures and we commit to doing our best to keep you not only safe, but fully informed of changes as they occur.
1. Store Hours. We will have staff on site during our usual hours (Tues-Fri – noon-7pm, Sat 10am-4pm) and available for appointments from 12:30-6:30pm Tuesday-Friday and Saturday from 10:30am-3:30pm (see below).
2. Appointment shopping – At this early stage, and to avoid overcrowding of the store which often happens in the summer, we are asking all of our customers to make an appointment when you’d like to come by. Since shopping for dive gear is a high touch experience, our appointment schedule allows time for our staff to clean up and disinfect things between appointments. We have set up an appointment booking function on our website (click here to make an appt), with 4 main types of appointments. The goal is to minimize crowding and/or line ups when you come to the store.
- Gear drop-off for service will occur at the back door. Drop-offs will simply be that. We have a table set up in the back on which you can leave your gear at your specified appointment time. There is hand sanitizer available for you to use. Once you’ve left, we’ll tag and enter your gear into the system. When you book your appointment, there will be a NOTES window in which you can add any specifics about your requested service work. This will minimize the time you need to spend in the store. Gear pick-up once service is completed will also be at the back door. Once your gear is complete, we’ll send you an e-mail with your total and any key notes about your service. We’ll respectfully request that you e-transfer us the total in advance of your pick-up to once again minimize your time and “contact” in the store when you make your pick-up.
- Picking Up Purchases – will occur at the back door. Once your order is complete and ready for pickup, we’ll send you an e-mail with your total and any relevant notes. We’ll respectfully request that you e-transfer us the total in advance of your pick-up to once again minimize your time and “contact” in the store when you make your pick-up. Just let us know when you arrive and we’ll retrieve your goods and leave then for you on the table just inside the door.
- New Student Fitting Appointment – We’ll all remember what it was like to select our first pieces of scuba gear (Mask/Snorkel/Fins) and get registered for our course. It’s exciting, but it takes time. We’ll have a dedicated staff member to look after new student registrations because this process takes about 45 minutes. Members of the same household may come together for the appointment. Another staff member will be on hand to work with other customers.
- Regular Shopping – if you want to browse, or are perhaps looking for some new scuba gear to call your own for hygiene reasons these days, we’re on hand to help you out. These appointments are 30 minutes long and should allow you to browse and consult with staff about your needs and what items we have that may suit you. To minimize wait times, we’re limiting the number of the our valued “regular shopping” customers in the store to 3 at any one time.
To avoid lengthy delays and waits, and while not a separate appointment, we’ll also ask those with air fill cards looking for fills to bring their tanks to the back door. Our usual fill request hang cards will be available if we are unable to fill your tank immediately. We are currently investing in an extension to our compressor delivery system so we can fill your tanks right there at the back door. Technical and non-house blend Nitrox fills will need to be left as usual.
3. Avoid Social Gathering at the store – while we’re all missing each other, we need to save the socializing part for another location. Those of you that know and love FNF may perhaps miss this part the most as we are truly a huge community. For now, please respect that we’re trying to minimize social drop ins at the store and trying to make it safe and efficient.
4. Keeping it clean – To help our efforts to protect the staff and other customers, we have the following procedures in place to ensure we maintain the cleanest and safest dive shop environment in the country. We have a sanitization station immediately inside the door that we’ll ask you stop at…
a. Face covering – we are asking all customers to wear a mask while you are in the store. We encourage you to bring your own personal mask, covering or face shield, but we will have face masks available for all customers
b. Hand Sanitizer – We have an ample supply of hand sanitizer on hand at the sanitization station and in several other locations throughout the store. Please use it as you see fit. Please be assured that Float N’ Flag uses ONLY hand sanitizer that is on the governments approved list of disinfectants that is proven to be effective in killing the Human Coronavirus.
c. Clear thin hand coverings – once you have sanitized your hands, kindly put on a pair of clear, loose gloves that will be at the station. This will help prevent any contact transmission on gear or surfaces you may be touching during your time in the store.
d. Thermometer – once you’re ready, we’ll quickly take your temperature before you begin your shopping experience. If you are exhibiting a fever or other flu-like symptoms, please stay home as you won’t be permitted to continue your experience in the store.
5. Practice Physical Distancing – While this likely needs no specific details, please ensure you remain 6 or more feet apart from the other customers and staff in the store. You know there is lots of room in the store, so this one should be easy. We will have a line on the floor in front of the cash to ensure we can all easily maintain our distance.
6. Staff Face Shields – All staff members interacting with our valued customers will be wearing Face Shields for the entire time you’re in the store.
7. Safety Shield – At the checkout, we have a clear safety shield. Our sanitized debit machine will be passed out to you under the shield and re-sanitized once you’re finished with it.
8. Payment Options – To help minimize contact, our new Debit machine has TAP capability for purchases up to $250. You may also use your regular debit card on the sanitized machine, as always, and enter your PIN. You may also send us an e-transfer from your personal phone/device. Cash will continue to be accepted as usual. During these difficult times that have seen us closed for nearly 3 months and with thousands spent in PPE, we are respectfully requesting you pay with one of the above methods and avoid Visa/Mastercard/Amex payments if possible to help us save on the significant fees these companies charge us, the retailer. We are already stretched enough right now, and this will really help keep us afloat.
9. Garbage at the door – please dispose of your gloves and disposable masks at the door before you leave. The staff have been trained and can show you how to properly remove your gloves so as to avoid contaminating your hands with anything that may be on the outside of the glove.
Other important things to think about or know…
- We have a sink and soap downstairs in the showroom area. If you would prefer to wash your hands prior to donning your gloves, or at any time during your visit, please feel free to wash your hands at any time.
- Our bathroom will be closed for public use until further notice. We have 2 new pop-up changerooms for you to try things on and the classroom will also be used as overflow as required.
- Any inventory item you try on will be either disinfected before being put back for others to see/try on (such as masks) or quarantined for 48 hours before being placed back on the shelf. Float N’ Flag uses ONLY government approved disinfectants that are proven effective against the Human Coronovirus.
- Each day, all main contact surfaces will be wiped down with government approved disinfectant wipes proven effective to kill the Human Coronovirus. High contact surfaces will be wiped down multiple times per day.
- Rental Gear – If you’re looking to go diving at a moments notice, now’s the time to look at buying your own gear! For Rental Gear, due to the need to additional time required by manufacturers of the specific disinfectants required to kill Human Coronavirus, cleaning times and such will be significantly longer this year. Our commitment is to ensure your safety, so we’ll ensure strict guidelines are followed. This will, however, mean a reduction in availability of rental gear this year and delays in turnaround times. Those renting gear are encouraged to do so early so we can advise if there will be any issues obtaining the gear as requested. Please be patient. We didn’t expect this and our systems aren’t set up to monitor things like longer cleaning times and such. We’ll do the best we can to get you out diving!
- Once classes will resume in the traditional format, we’ll let everyone know what’s happening under separate cover
- Local Diving Update – a few places have opened up for local diving, but it is still quite limited at this point. Welland Scuba Park is open, and Humber Bay Park is also apparently open. Tobermory is open for BOAT DIVING ONLY – There is absolutely NO SHORE DIVING, including the TUGS and the LIGHTHOUSE. Please respect these rules.
- Gulliver’s Lake – Gulliver’s Lake remains closed under Provincial Order. I am in regular contact with Debbie and will advise once we know anything further. As you’re all aware, June 9th is the next date we’ll likely get new information.
- Pools – The city of Burlington has closed their pools until September. Others remain closed “indefinitely”, including our usual pool. We are working on this daily and hope to have answers and options soon for everyone.
Thanks again for your patience as we navigate this time together. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all soon.
Your Dive Experience Managers!