Many businesses that have closed earlier this year have reopened or are about to reopen now. However, this does not mean that the pandemic is over or that there’s no longer a risk of catching the virus. COVID-19 is still much there, and it’s likely to stay next year and beyond. Hence, it’s crucial for businesses to enforce health protocols in their facilities and ensure that employees and customers alike can safely work or shop in their establishments.
If you’re a store owner, here are a few important measures you can take to maintain the cleanliness of your facility and keep your workers and customers safe from coronavirus.
Clean and Disinfect Your Facility Frequently in a Day
Thoroughly clean your facility before reopening, and continue your daily cleaning routine. The virus is known to stay for minutes or hours on hard (porous or nonporous) surfaces, which increases risk of hand-to-body transfer. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently. These include the following:
- Light switches
- Cash registers
One way to ensure high-touch surfaces are sanitized is to make disinfectant sprays available in key areas, such as restrooms, to employees and customers. Place a sign to notify the people who use the area to disinfect the surfaces they touched after using the room.
For outdoor surfaces, wash areas with water and soap, but clean and disinfect railings and anything that people usually put their hands on. Frequent cleaning and disinfection help prevent the spread of the virus.
Use Proper Cleaning and Disinfectant Products
Cleaning is not enough to stop the virus from spreading. You have to sanitize and disinfect surfaces to kill the virus. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the List N tool to let you know whether your disinfectant is effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Before buying a disinfectant, check if it’s part of the list created by the EPA.
In the absence of disinfectant products in List N, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using diluted household bleach solutions. According to this guide to cleaning and disinfection by the CDC, the bleach should contain 5.25–8.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Anything less or more is not recommended.
In the same guide, the CDC provides the following instructions to create an effective bleach solutions:
- Mix 5 tablespoons (one-third cup) of 5.25–8.25 percent bleach per gallon of room-temperature water.
- Or you can add four teaspoons of 5.25–8.25 percent bleach per quart of room-temperature water.
Wear protective clothing, gloves, and eyewear when using a bleach solution. Make sure there’s proper ventilation during and after application. Use puncture-resistant disposable gloves and medical-grade protective clothing and eyewear to get the level of protection you need for the task. Finally, don’t mix chemicals together, especially bleach and ammonia, to avoid serious harm to your health.
Set Up Hand-Hygiene Stations
Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from person to person or from person to object or surface. Therefore, you should set up handwashing stations in convenient areas inside and outside, such as near the entrance and outside restrooms. Consider using touchless faucets, as well.
If building handwashing stations is not feasible, prepare alcohol solutions or hand sanitizers with 70 percent alcohol in touchless dispensers in key areas inside and outside the store.
Develop Policies for Worker and Customer Safety
The pandemic is not like any other time when you don’t need to be wearing a mask or be conscious about keeping a two-meter distance between yourself and another person. Hence, it’s expected and recommended for businesses to develop policies that ensure the health and safety of their staff and their customers.
One of the key policies in reducing the risk of the virus being passed from person to person is to require everyone, workers and customers, who enter your store to wear masks at all times. You should also set up programs to educate employees on what they need to do to keep themselves and others safe.
Your workers should also be trained on COVID-19 safety protocols, such as proper use of disinfectants, handling customers who don’t follow safety regulations, and dealing with waste materials.
Proper and adequate information helps people protect themselves and others from the virus, so it’s important that you make it available to your workers and your customers.
The CDC has published COVID-19 FAQs for workplaces and businesses, in which the institute answers questions about handling suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, reducing the spread of the virus in the workplace, and more.
Invest in a Commercial COVID-19 Cleaning Service
There are certain aspects of cleaning and disinfection that your employees may not be properly trained for or for which they don’t have the right equipment to handle. For example, water and sewage cleanup should be left to the professionals as they have the training and equipment to handle hazardous waste.
You should also consider hiring a professional cleaning company to deep-clean and sanitize the establishment at least once a month. The pros have the right cleaning tools, techniques, and protective equipment to achieve the superior results that your regular staff can’t get without the right training and tools.
The Bottom Line
Cleanliness and sanitation are paramount during this public health crisis, and businesses are expected to implement strict measures to keep their workers and their customers safe. It’s crucial for organizations and individuals to do their part to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and flatten the curve.