Staying Open

This letter was posted in our store window, March 20, 2020.

These are extraordinary times.

In a rapidly evolving response to Covid-19, we’re seeing governments, businesses and our community participate actively and supportively. “Social distancing” and “flatten the curve” have become guiding principles for us all.

With cooperation, we will get through this in good health.

The Toronto medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, recommends all non-essential businesses to close as of March 19. I have reached out to 311, our councillor and our Mayor for guidance on how Toronto views Laundromats and dry cleaners: essential or non-essential. There’s no guidance I can find in Toronto, and no response from anyone I’ve reached out to.

San Francisco, in their “Shelter in Place” order of March 16 which was more restrictive than current Toronto or Ontario orders, specifically permitted Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry services to stay open. The two sides of the argument boil down to: sanitation vs. social distancing.

In my two shops, I want to strike the best balance that serves our community. Until Toronto issues any guidance, I’m working with San Francisco’s guidance and staying open. It’s not a light decision.


  • I ask customers to please do the minimum amount of laundry you need to get through this. If you can let the laundry pile up for two weeks, and not come to the Laundromat, that’s an effective form of social distancing. Think of it as putting your laundry in quarantine.
  • In the Laundromat, please maintain personal social distancing to any extent possible.
  • Bring hand sanitizer. Staff have hand sanitizer and gloves for their use. We have a soap dispenser and paper towels by the sink at the back of the shop. Please wash your hands after touching coins or surfaces.
  • Washing clothes with soap kills Covid-19. From the washer, minimize surface contact for your clothes. Take care with the dryers, to minimize contact with external handles and surfaces. Fold at home if you can.
  • We’re washing the floors daily, and wiping down customer touch points regularly with disinfectant throughout each day. Our reduced staff hours mean we’re not here in the evening or early morning.  Our absence is both a social distancing opportunity and a personal risk exposure for customers. Personal risk management can mitigate our absence.


  • We’ve reduced hours at Monk’s, giving staff more time for store cleaning, self-care and personal social distancing.
  • Staff have gloves and hand sanitizer for their use. The best advice I have is that masks are not effective at preventing infection in normal situations, and they are in short supply for our doctors and hospitals.
  • We’re not accepting new customers in the Pick up & Delivery service, and every accepted order is being asked if they have travelled to a Covid-19 hot spot, and rejected if there’s any perceived risk.
  • We are washing the laundry bags as part of our standard Monk’s service.
  • Our own use of the Laundromat follows the guiding principles above, and we’ve reserved three washing machines at the back of the shop for the exclusive use of staff to enhance social distancing.
  • Dry cleaning volumes have dropped off, and I’d ask you to please go further: if your clothes can self-quarantine at home for two weeks, that’s an effective social distancing.

I don’t know how long these extraordinary times will last. While they do, I commit to do whatever I can to keep my shops clean and safe, and our service friendly and accessible.

With cooperation, we will get through this in good health.

Thank you for your efforts to keep us all clean and safe.

Alex Winch.
Cell (416) 712-1488