For nearly two months, the majority of businesses have been shuttered to stop the spread of COVID-19. But in Florida and across the country, legislators are launching plans to safely reopen. Most places are now in Phase 1, which allows many non-essential businesses to operate at 25 percent to 50 percent capacity, while maintaining social distancing measures. In Phase 2, capacity will increase to around 75 percent, followed by 100 percent in Phase 3.
But Phase 3 doesn’t mean we’re going back to the way it was before. We’re living in a new reality now. Beyond Phase 3, businesses will need to regularly disinfect high touch areas between interactions to the greatest frequency feasible. Governor Ron DeSantis anticipates these phases will take place in south Florida within weeks–not months–which means businesses need to prepare now for the new normal of what clean means.
Businesses need to follow all CDC, state and local guidelines for reopening and properly cleaning their facility. They must also work to gain the trust of consumers who are concerned about returning to public places. Forbes reported that a whopping 95% of consumers want companies to implement physical protection and distancing measures to help keep them healthy.
When it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace, businesses must establish a deep disinfection cleaning plan to alleviate concerns from customers and employees. A reopening plan that includes ongoing disinfection and cleaning, and prioritizes health and safety above all else will boost consumer confidence. But it’s important to implement that plan now in order to inspire customers to return as we enter the second and third phases of reopening.
South Florida’s Reopening Plan
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are now in the first stages of reopening. That means social distancing measures remain in place, and groups of more than 10 people are prohibited. Residents are required to wear face masks everywhere they go, with a few exceptions:
- Eating or drinking at a restaurant
- Salon or barber shop for any facial grooming
- Gym or outdoors while working out
- Dentist or another doctor’s office to treat under the mask
- Inside rented rooms at hotels
At this time, professional offices, restaurants, gyms, hotels, salons, medical practices, and retail shops are approved to reopen if they can follow disinfection and distancing requirements. Capacity is limited to 50 percent, and 6 feet is required between patrons. Signage reminding people about CDC and state guidelines is also required, along with hand-sanitizing stations, and regularly disinfected surfaces. Any papers, magazines, books and toys should be removed from waiting areas, and large areas where people congregate should be roped off, according to the guidelines. Gym equipment must be disinfected after each use and patrons must have a temperature below 100.4 degrees.
Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters and entertainment venues are anticipated to reopen in Phase 2 at 50 percent capacity, when social gatherings will increase to a maximum of 50 people. South Florida legislatures say this will happen in the next few weeks, but have not announced a set date.
Whether total reopening happens sooner or later depends on how quickly businesses can adapt and adhere to proper cleaning and social distancing procedures. Every business must do its part to prevent a second wave by ensuring a safe and clean environment.
COVID-19 Reopening Checklist
To create a safe space for customers and employees that projects competence, businesses should consider using this checklist as a starting point on the path to reopening.
Step 1: Know State & Federal Regulations
Compliance is key to reopening, drawing in customers, and staying open. Business should be well versed in regulations regarding:
- Cleanliness requirements
- Social distancing requirements
- Mask requirements
- Capacity limits at current phase
Step 2: Follow the Rules
- Schedule an immediate deep cleaning and ongoing prevention plan to adhere to disinfection requirements
- Create a plan to deal with social distancing and capacity limits, such as adding markers spaced 6 feet apart and signage to guide customers on traffic flow
- Create a mask enforcement plan, such as requiring all employees to wear masks, and posting signs for customers to enter wearing a mask before they sit down
- Add hand-sanitizing or hand-washing stations at entrances and exits
Step 3: Make Sure Everyone Knows You’re Following the Rules
- Use signage to reiterate rules for optimal health
- Provide written or visual proof of deep cleanings to put your patrons at ease
- Keep open communication with customers and employees about what your doing to protect them
- Create an FAQ guide that customers and employees can reference regarding your new protocols
Step 4: Go Beyond the Rules
- Partner with a local lab or nurse to offer testing on-site for your employees, if possible
- Provide masks for employees and customers
- Consider engaging with industrial cleaning companies for advice and regular service
- Prepare your staff to interact with customers by training them on all compliance issues
Industry-Specific Safety Checklist
One-size-fits-all safety and disinfection protocols won’t cut in the COVID era. Every business needs a customized safety and disinfection plan based on its unique building type, employee count, and industry. Any cleaning company that only takes square footage into account, isn’t assessing layout or density.
For a more in-depth analysis of how to safely reopen and disinfect your facility, contact us to schedule a free on-site assessment today.
For Medical Facilities
Hospitals, nursing homes, private practices and urgent cares must take extra precautions due to the nature of human-to-human and instrument contact in these facilities. Medical providers will want to factor in the following strategies for a safe and effective reopening.
- Determine the services you can safely perform onsite, as well as those you can manage via telehealth.
- Schedule frequent deep cleanings of all surfaces beyond what you did before the pandemic.
- Assess your personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory and place the orders immediately.
- Plan how you will handle staffing and cleaning if an employee, patient or visitor is contracts COVID-19 after being in the clinic
- Create a modified schedule to ensure patients aren’t coming into close contact with one another.
- Get more tips from the AMA physician guide
Grocery stores, apparel, and general merchandise retailers must take special precautions to ensure guests and employees feel at ease.
- Post signs and ads announcing the reopening, with new hours, safety measures, and CDC-based cleaning procedures.
- Consider providing masks and gloves, plastic face shields, and plexiglass shields at all register and customer service desks.
- Establish special shopping hours for senior citizens and Immunocompromised customers.
- Put directional signage in the aisles to help guide customer flow and promote social distancing.
- Launch no-contact buying process and create special parking spaces.
For Condos & Residences
Management teams for condos, residences, and apartment complexes must consider how to safely reopen common areas with resident protection at the top of mind.
- Place a hand sanitizer station or cart wipes near entrances to all common areas.
- Ensure fixtures, floors, walls, windows, and surfaces are disinfected regularly.
- Reconfigure gym setup temporarily to increase space between equipment and stagger workout times.
- Provide sanitizers and create a plan to wipe down equipment after every use.
- Assign residents specific days to use the pool and mark spots where residents can lay to support safe distancing.
For Professional Offices
After quarantining for so long, non-essential employees may feel hesitant about returning to the office. Employers must do their best to create new systems and procedures that make their team feel safe.
- Consider extending telemedicine benefits to all associates and their families.
- Create a written policy that ensures employees who feel sick do not enter the building.
- Consider installing touchless faucets, soap dispensers, and hand dryers.
- Enlist an industrial cleaning company to decontaminate and disinfect high-touch point areas and mitigate transmission risk.
- Communicate with staff about best practices for maintaining safe and clean workspaces.
For Education Providers
Education providers must consider several factors and work with local health departments to receive guidance on reopening plans. Here we provide a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Create designated entrances and exits for different student grades.
- Rope off common spaces where needed, and create floor markings to direct safe foot-traffic.
- Add portable hand-sanitizing stations at entrances and common areas
- Set up quarantine areas for students with fever.
- Supplement janitorial process with regular industrial cleanings using EPA and CDC approved equipment.
Looking Forward with Total Cleaning
Deploying an advanced disinfection plan is a necessary to augment your standard janitorial process in the COVID era. Why? Advanced cleaning technicians have the personal protective gear, medical-grade disinfectants, and tested protocols to wipe out pathogens and prevent accidental cross contamination. A&S Total Cleaning uses a multi-step approach that spans several days and multiple technicians, each armed with CDC-approved disinfectants and broad-spectrum 99.9% kill claims to attack every surface and high-touch area.
Repetitive cleaning is key, but not every business requires the same procedures. Our technicians have the training to create an ongoing schedule unique to each business that keeps workers and customers safe. A&S Total Cleaning has over 30 years of experience, and our technicians are certified in OSHA regulations and the National Safety Council’s bloodborne pathogens protocols. Contact us today to schedule a free on-site appointment to evaluate your decontamination and disinfection cleaning needs.