As we enter 2021, there is much hope on the horizon. A COVID-19 vaccine is here and we are on the precipice of putting this pandemic in the rearview mirror.
COVID Safe Signings
But even with all the hope that 2021 promises, COVID is here, COVID is real, and COVID has truly made its mark on how notaries conduct signings now and in the foreseeable future. This is certainly not the time to let down your guard. You must stay consistent and diligent in your safety practices; COVID safe signings are critical for personal & client safety.
COVID-19 safety guidelines during signings
Below are some important health and safety reminders and best practices to help keep you and your clients safe during notary signings.
Wear your mask and provide masks
As a notary, you have to protect yourself and your clients by wearing a mask. There is simply no flexibility when it comes to proper mask wearing. Many notaries have told us that clients often don’t feel the need to wear a mask in their own home. Letting the client know during your confirmation call prior to the signing that you require masks, can prevent this awkward situation.
And as an added measure, you should always carry a supply of disposable masks for your clients when they don’t have one readily available. Make it a friendly experience, but stand your ground on mask protocol.
Ask COVID health questions on the confirmation call
If there was ever a time to take advantage of the confirmation call prior to the signing, this is that time. Ask the client these questions to make sure everyone is going to be safe:
- Have they recently had a positive COVID test?
- If yes, have they since had a negative one, and how long ago, etc.
- Do they live with people who might present risks (fellow family members who don’t take COVID seriously)?
- Do they currently have ANY symptoms that could be COVID?
- Have they recently traveled?
- Are they comfortable wearing a mask and practicing social distancing at the signing?
- Are they comfortable doing the signing outside?
Once you are satisfied with the answers, ask the client if they feel comfortable and if there is anything else you can do to make them feel safe. Since you just asked them many questions, they may feel a bit on edge and this is a great way to show them that you are as concerned about their safety as your own.
Practice social distancing
When possible, try to conduct the signing outside. This might not be an option in cold or wet weather, so you need to make sure you are practicing social distancing during the signing. This means sitting at least 6 feet (further if possible) away from the client at all times.
This can be challenging, especially when you first come to the door, so be prepared and make sure you have your mask on. You can greet the client by simply putting your hand on your heart and saying “it’s nice to meet you”. And always remember to verbalize that you are practicing social distancing so a client doesn’t feel uncomfortable. They will obviously be aware of these practices, but saying them out loud and with a smile (remember that your eyes smile when wearing a mask) makes everyone feel better and on the same page.
Sanitize until you can sanitize no more
Because you have set the stage that you take COVID seriously, the client shouldn’t be surprised when you pull out your hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
- Proceed with wiping down the table and any surfaces you will be touching. This should be done before and after the signing.
- Both you and the client should use hand sanitizer before starting the signing.
- Be aware of pens. You should have your own and so should the client. Be prepared with cheap pens that you can give the client to keep in the event they don’t have their own.
Upon returning to your car, take extra precaution by doing a quick wipe of surfaces you regularly touch (door handle, steering wheel, radio, etc.). Make sure to sanitize your hands before removing your mask and getting back in your car.
A great article for reference from the CDC is How to Protect Yourself & Others. Following this guideline will help define best practices for everyone.
Leave if you don’t feel safe
Even by taking preemptive measures before, and being extra diligent at the signing, sometimes things just don’t feel right. You need to know that it’s okay to put your own safety first and leave. Yes…LEAVE.
A notary recently reported that they went to do a signing at a client’s home. The notary was meeting with the wife for the signing, but the husband was also home. The wife was very kind and cooperative with COVID measures, but the husband said he wasn’t going to wear a mask in his own home. It was too cold to do the signing outside, so the notary made the decision to leave. We all want to be stellar notaries, but your health is nothing to risk and it really is okay to leave in these situations.
There are options for doing a signing online. Read our article on Remote Notarizations for more information.
Stay diligent and safe
Hopefully, as we progress into 2021, the Coronavirus will become less of a threat. As more people are vaccinated and outbreaks are contained, there will be a sense of relief we have all longed for. But even with all of this, mask-wearing and additional preventative measures will be in place for the foreseeable future.
by Rena Barron