Stores and non-essential businesses re-opening during this next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, hope to get back to some kind of “new normal”. But are your customers going to feel safe when they walk into your store, commercial building, office, or shopping mall?
In Europe, where cafés and retail stores have reopened, shops in countries such as Germany experienced such low foot traffic that some began shutting down again. Many predict that North America could experience similar scenarios. According to an April 20 survey by retail predictive analytics company First Insight Inc., only 1/3 of American adults said that they will feel safe shopping in a mall when stores reopen after COVID. First Insight CEO, Greg Petro, added that “malls in particular need to be thinking of ways to inspire a sense of safety for consumers, and it will need to go beyond offering gloves and masks at the door.”
In Canada, store opening fears post COVID are similar. An Angus Reid poll conducted in late April showed that 43 per cent of Canadians said they wouldn’t return to regular routines until no new cases were reported in their region for two weeks in a row. Only one in 10 said they would resume their former lives immediately.
“We just don’t know where the psychology of customers is going to be as we are reopening,” said Janet De Silva, chief executive of the Toronto Board of Trade “The business owners we talk to want to be back in business, but the public needs to be confident with the guidelines on recovery that are to come.”
Guidelines for reopening businesses after COVID varies across Canada
It’s not going to be business as usual post COVID. Businesses need to be transparent with customers and patrons about their health policies, including social distancing guidelines, as well as how they are managing coronavirus cleaning and building disinfection. Communicating how you have prepared your facility for your returning employees is also key. You need to be able to post what provincial or state guidelines you are following for re-opening, and what procedures for ongoing cleaning are in place in accordance with regional and national health authorities.
This is where it gets tricky. Policies and procedures in addition to schedules for re-opening post COVID vary according to where you are located. Many health and safety guidelines are going to be universal, such as cleaning all touched surfaces and creating wide enough spaces for consumers to pass each other at physically-distant lengths; others will vary, for example, mandatory wearing of face masks or other PPE.
As of this date, not all provinces have their final plans and schedules in place. Here’s what to know right now if you live in Canada.
Each province’s economic relaunch plan varies. Reopening after COVID will be gradual and in most instances, occur in stages, with 2-4 week barriers between the launch of each stage to allow health officials to assess conditions before moving to the next one. The Retail Council of Canada has a list of the reopening dates for non-essential retailers across all provinces and territories, which can be found here.
The general concepts are the same across the country, but again, each province and territory has been putting together their own post COVID workplace safety guidelines. Specifics of what businesses must abide by to be deemed safe to reopen in Ontario were announced the week of April 27 by Premier Doug Ford and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton. These workplace safety guidelines are very similar to those outlined in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec’s business reopening plans. Washrooms, for example, must be sanitized frequently; and businesses are required to have a regime for business sanitization in place. The other provinces are releasing guidelines as soon as they can be developed.
Public Health Canada also has produced a guideline for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces.
Look for COVID-effective commercial disinfection and building disinfection services
In spite of regional variations and evolving plans, one message is universal. Stores and businesses re-opening post COVID need to be confident that the cleaning disinfection and building disinfection services they use are effective for re-opening post COVID and keep your business COVID clean.
It’s a known fact that COVID can be spread by individuals who may not even know that they are infectious (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic). This reinforces the need to measure the effectiveness of cleaning practices even when you believe you have used the highest quality of cleaning and disinfection methods. Known as a “Trust by Verify” approach, this is the benefit of the environmental cleaning practice known as ATP – adenosine triphosphate testing. ATP puts “clean” to the test because it can almost immediately determine if surfaces have been cleaned properly.
A health care network in Connecticut that used ATP testing for the past 3 years attests to its effectiveness at monitoring cleanliness. By using this kind of “Trust but Verify” approach, the facility achieved the highest score for level of cleanliness out of 600 health facilities.1
ATP testing is available in Canada through COVID cleaning companies like Kleenway that have always made quality testing part of their commercial cleaning services. ATP is an ideal tool to use in conjunction with cleaning technologies such as electrostatic disinfection services. With ATP testing, business owners and property managers can make decisions about “clean” and “disinfected” based on scientific fact, not just appearances and good intentions.
Kleenway’s COVIDkleen™ standard operating procedures
Re-opening your business is going to be challenging, if not more challenging than getting through the last few weeks when non-essential businesses were forced to closed. Top priorities are creating a safe post COVID clean environment, and assuring customers, employees and patrons that you are following all the required guidelines in your region for keeping them safe and healthy.
Kleenway provides coronavirus cleaning and disinfection methods, ATP testing and audits that deliver post COVID confidence:
- As a COVID cleaning company Kleenway is able to provide immediate and ongoing auditing services to determine whether a facility is “safe” for employees and customers.
- Kleenway’s ongoing auditing service includes a quick analysis done within the facility using ATP technology, and a report that shows if there are any issues.
- Following ATP inspection, Kleenway is able to provide regular superior cleaning and disinfecting services including electrostatic disinfection.
Your customers and your employees have been through a lot. Remember as your business opens post COVID: everything may look clean, but is it COVIDkleen™?
1. Lilllis, K (2015), ATP Testing: A proven Method to Measure Cleanliness, Hygiena