With the end of lockdown 3.0 in sight, people are starting to plan the reopening of their business, the return of children to school and ‘normal’ life resuming. People are already booking their healthcare and dental appointments and planning visits to family in care.
On the other hand, some are hesitant at the prospect of things going back to normal. We are in our third lockdown and could enter another if the R rate increases again. And, with the knowledge that around 40% of people are asymptomatic, being around others can create feelings of anxiety – someone you spend time with could seem completely fine but still have the virus and pass it on.
This raises the question – how can we create an environment that not only keeps people safe but makes them feel safe?
Things to consider when returning to normal
Some elements of creating a COVID-secure environment are easier said than done. Plus, many hygiene measures are open to human error.
One of the main methods we’ve followed is the Government’s “Hands, Face, Space” campaign. We know about hand washing and sanitising, keeping our face masks on and creating a 2-metre distance between ourselves and others. But how do we apply this when putting together a strategy for returning to normal?
What are touchpoints?
Touchpoints are items or places throughout a building that are used by lots of people. These can include water machines, access control buttons, photocopiers or door handles. Such high-traffic objects can be cause for concern as they can allow for cross-contamination.
With research summed up by WebMD showing that the virus can survive on surfaces from a few hours up to days, hand hygiene and reducing touchpoints is a vital part of controlling the spread of the virus.
People aren’t using hand sanitiser units
As previously mentioned, human error can result in even the most robust hygiene measures becoming redundant. People may simply not notice the sanitiser units available or the signs on display.
Stephen Peppercorn, Facilities Officer at Monmouthshire County Council found that even after implementing hygiene measures around his building in line with government advice, they weren’t being used. Stephen explained, “Hand sanitiser units had been installed throughout the buildings and in both reception areas with A5 printed signage above the units. Unfortunately, this did not draw attention to the units.”
How to increase the use of hand sanitiser and reduce touchpoints
Stephen installed our Germgard Station, a portable stand that uses a sensor and digital signage to attract the attention of passers-by, prompting them to use the hand sanitiser before they move through the building.
Stephen says, “It has improved hand sanitisation and COVID safety because of increased use. It has also enhanced the Council’s reputation with the unit making a statement that we take COVID safety seriously and are encouraging all building attendees to undertake hand sanitisation.”
Having obvious and clear COVID-safe measures in place is an important way of making employees and visitors feel safe whilst also encouraging good hygiene practices.
Why is ventilation so important?
Ventilation is the newest addition to COVID safety measures, recently mentioned by Sir Patrick Vallance when discussing the reopening of schools. Professor Cath Noakes, who studies the transmission of diseases, has also recently discussed in an interview how good ventilation throughout a building can reduce the risk of pathogen inhalation by 70%.
The best way to improve ventilation is by opening your windows and doors in a way that creates an inlet for fresh air and an exhaust for the old air. Opening windows is an easy step to increasing fresh air. However, many buildings have fire doors fitted and it’s dangerous to wedge these open.
How can I hold my fire doors open legally?
Fire doors are in place to prevent the spread of smoke and flames when a fire breaks out, saving lives and property. If they’re wedged open, fire can take over a whole building within minutes.
By holding your fire doors open you are encouraging airflow throughout your building. Open doors also minimise the need to touch door handles, reducing touchpoints.
Implementing visibly clear hygiene measures in your building will help you welcome back staff, patients and visitors and make them feel instantly at ease. Placing Germgard at the entrance to your building will provide reassurance that everyone who enters has sanitised their hands, reducing cross-contamination. By installing Dorgard and Freedor, you’re opening up the building, people can see others approaching and stay 2 metres apart, and you’re reducing touchpoints whilst encouraging airflow.
Do you need help with your return to normal strategy? Our simple solutions provide an easy way for you to keep your building COVID-secure and fire safe. Call us on 01273 320650 for more information or visit our online shop via www.fireco.uk to order your hygiene products.