Reopening after COVID-19 | Facilities Management Essex &… | Tempus FM
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What will reopening after COVID-19 look like?

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Reopening for different sectors

With the end of the third lockdown finally approaching, businesses across the country are now preparing to reopen. But what will reopening look like? All employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees from harm and provide a safe working environment. In light of the pandemic, this responsibility includes adhering to the COVID-19 workplace guidelines. We’re going to take a look at how businesses in different sectors might set about reopening after months of lockdown.

Education

Despite the ongoing uncertainty, education is one of the sectors that will be likely to reopen at the earliest opportunity. While we won’t know exactly how the return to education will look, it does seem to be fairly accepted that it will happen in phases. The first phase is expected to focus on children in school, particularly in the early years and exam level pupils. Getting these children back to school is essential as extended disruptions could have lasting effects on their learning and exam results. Also, virtual teaching and learning are much harder for younger children. However, this return must be done in a way that minimises the risk of transmission between the children themselves, their teachers, school support staff and the families of everyone who spends time in a school.

Before reopening school buildings and college or university campuses, enchanced cleaning measures should be introduced with thorough cleans before pupils and students return. As many schools will have been partially open to teaching children of key workers during lockdown, there will have been cleaning processes in place, with high-contact surfaces and communal areas being targeted. Once schools start to fill up, classrooms should be cleaned in between lessons to prevent different groups of students from passing on germs to each other. Many schools have been trying to limit the use of classrooms - this is easier in primary schools than secondary, so risk assessments may need to be undertaken to review how frequently classrooms are used by different bubbles.

Ventilation is another factor that must be addressed. All indoor and covered areas should have sufficient ventilation. Students will be spending extended periods of time indoors, so there must be a clean supply of fresh air at all times. Opening windows and doors can sometimes be sufficient, but this is weather-dependent. Poorly ventilated buildings are particularly conducive to virus spread, so if opening windows and doors is not a realistic option then there should be some sort of backup plan in place. Air conditioning units are an option, but they should only be circulating fresh air. Further advice to help with the reopening of schools after COVID-19 can be found in the Health and Safety Executive’s ventilation guidelines.

Furthermore, as pupils and students head back into the classroom, there need to be clear rules and guidelines to adhere to public health guidance. This includes reducing social contact, maintaining social distancing, adopting good hand and respiratory hygiene measures and self-isolation for those with symptoms. This will help to limit transmission and contact so if there is a positive case, the reach of it will be limited.

While many schools, colleges and universities will have been doing much of the above for several months, with the now known ‘Kent’ mutation, which is spread more easily, this is even more crucial. They should review their practices and processes, undertake regular assessments of their set up and if there is an outbreak, review their procedures to see if they could take further steps to improve prevention.

Retail

While all industries have been affected by the pandemic, retail is one which has perhaps been changed the most. As well as focusing on the buying and selling of products, retailers now have to facilitate online sales, home delivery and data analytics. The lockdown and fear around the spread of the virus have caused a shift to online sales and a change in the way customers approach the buying journey.

For retailers, having customers in your store is essential to your business. Depending on the layout and size of your store, this may be quite challenging. The most important steps will be to accommodate social distancing and sanitation regulations. If you have less square footage to work with, then you may have to think outside the box to make sure you comply with government regulations. This might mean you only open for limited hours per day, so you can perform regular cleaning during the off periods. Or perhaps you will limit the number of customers in your shop at any one time to ensure social distancing.


You may need to consider additional PPE, such as face masks, gloves and anti-viral hand gel. Hand-washing facilities at the entrance to shops have now become commonplace, and masks are mandatory for shop-workers. Having the correct stations installed in advance of re-opening your stores will help you to hit the ground running and be in a position to welcome customers back to your shop straight away. Retail reopening after COVID-19 is going to require a lot of foreplanning and thought about how customers are likely to behave once shop doors reopen.

Hospitality

Reopening hospitality after COVID-19 is not going to be straightforward. For those returning to work in food and beverage lodgings, personal hygiene should already be a priority. But upon reopening, it’s going to become more important than ever. For customers to feel safe eating out, they’re going to need assurance that food hygiene is taken seriously and that measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

For restaurants reopening after COVID-19, the first step before should be a deep clean of the premises. Because you likely won’t have had a chance to do this for a while, you should also thoroughly check your existing stock. The deep clean should be extensive and should particularly target high-contact areas such as door handles and surface tops. Going forward, these areas should be regularly cleaned as they are the most likely to increase the risk of transmission. Your cleaning schedule should also include areas which you previously might not have thought to cover, such as chairs, under tables and window sills.

We would strongly recommend that all PPM is up to date, ensuring assets and systems are compliant prior to opening. In particular, we would advise focusing on gas assets, fire systems, water hygiene (Legionella testing and water temperatures), pest control and ventilation systems.

When carrying out a risk assessment, hospitality-based businesses should look to identify multiple areas where both staff and customers can wash their hands. There should be visual reminders placed strategically around your building to make sure that the message is clear for everyone to see. In addition to this, there should be clear indicators that direct traffic to ensure one-way systems are being followed. The layout of seating areas should also reflect social distancing measures and prevent customers from being too close to each other for extended periods.


Offices

Reopening offices after COVID-19 will be challenging for many reasons. Over the lockdown, millions of employees have been working from home and adjusting to the challenges of operating remotely. For some, they won’t have been in their office for well over a year. For a return to the workplace, employers must consider a detailed risk assessment which takes into account the wellbeing of employees’ health in terms of minimising the risk of infection. Mental health is another consideration that should be accounted for, as going through such a huge change could put a lot of pressure or anxiety on your team.

Offices should undergo deep cleaning before any employees return to the workplace. This cleaning should include individual working areas as well as shared ones. If the layout in the workplace does not allow for social distancing, then it will be necessary to rearrange tables, chairs and other equipment. Stations should be set up for employees to regularly wash their hands and follow hand hygiene sanitation guidelines.

Ventilation is also essential in offices. We all know how difficult it is to regulate the temperature indoors, especially in larger workplaces. Now, employers will have to consider good ventilation as well. This is because poor ventilation increases the risk of transmitting airborne viruses, which is of course something everyone should be trying to avoid. HVAC systems are perfect for tackling both temperature and ventilation, as they provide an all-in-one solution for regulating indoor air quality.

Where you have kitchens, you should think about how these are used and how you may have to address key use times such as lunch. It might be an idea to consider a rota and to do a clean halfway through this. If you have a team of 20 all in one kitchen within the space of two hours without a clean, then this could be a potential risk. With bathrooms, there will be more consistent use so you might want to ensure these are cleaned throughout the day and to let staff know which ones have been cleaned and when with a clear schedule that everyone can view.

About Tempus

We are a family-run facilities management company with over ten years of experience providing our services across the country. We are based in Southend-on-Sea, but we don’t limit ourselves to any particular geographical location. With operatives based across the country, we’re always on hand to respond to emergencies and promptly arrive at your site to resolve any issues.

Key Services

Tempus provides a range of facilities management services to ensure our clients and their buildings comply with health and safety regulations. Whether you need help installing proper ventilation, rearranging the layout of your store or setting up hand sanitiser stations throughout the building, we can help.

In addition to this, we provide an extensive list of services which will be particularly useful for assisting with reopening after COVID-19.


Handyperson services

We provide a handyperson service which is perfect for fixing odd jobs around your building that you haven’t been able to address over the last few months. We will ‘triage’ jobs until there are enough issues for us to be called out to your site. As part of our service, we can also provide you with cover for sick or absent staff and additional labour support ready for reopening or taking on a big project. Whether you need assistance with assembling furniture or relocating stock, our flexible handyperson service can meet your needs.



Vacant property inspections

If you’re returning to your building for the first time after a good few months of lockdown, it’s worth having an inspection of your vacant property. Our team will make sure you are health and safety compliant and that the building is in a safe condition for your employees to return to. We can also perform basic maintenance and repairs tasks whilst on your sites, such as fixing leaks or broken door handles.


Deep cleaning

Deep cleaning will no doubt be first on the list for all of the businesses that are going to reopen after the lockdown. Ensuring that built-up bacteria or germs which have accumulated over the last few months are thoroughly removed is an essential first step towards preventing the spread of disease. You may also just need to freshen up your building - being away from it for months can make a big difference as we have seen with many of our client sites! Our team will clean your grounds and external facilities as well as your office and inside spaces.


Reactive maintenance

No matter how much planning goes into a return to normal life, there will always be situations where, unfortunately, things go wrong. That’s where our reactive maintenance service comes into play. Our reactive maintenance is 24/7/365. If you have an emergency at any time, whether it’s a weekday or the weekend, you can call us on 01702 548 950 and we’ll answer. With operatives based across the country, we’re on hand to provide you with urgent reactive maintenance for your buildings.

Get in touch with us today

To find out more about our services and how we can help you reopen your property after COVID-19, feel free to contact us today. Our Helpdesk is available every day of the year, so whether you need urgent assistance or you’d like to arrange a planned preventative maintenance schedule, you can give us a call on 01702 548 950. We have the knowledge and experience to help your business reopen after COVID-19.

For more information about our work with Reopening after COVID-19 and the services we provide contact us.