Covid-19: A Guide to Reopening Your Commercial Property

By: Karl Sharpe | Published: 4th September 2020

Covid-19

At long last the Covid-19 Pandemic seems to be loosening its grip on the UK. Through sheer will and collective sacrifice we are finally at a point where we are returning to a degree of normality.

Though, this doesn’t mean that we should become complacent. With the lingering threat of a second wave it is more important than ever that we continue to adhere to initiatives like social distancing.

As businesses begin to reopen across the UK, the big question is what other precautions do they need to take? From offices to train stations and retail units, each is presented with it’s own challenges in reopening to the public.

So, what do you need to do before reopening your commercial property? Below are two key areas of risk you need to be aware of.

Air Conditioning Systems

The general consensus throughout the HVAC industry is that air conditioning is still safe to use during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this does not mean that there isn’t an increased risk. An article by the HSE suggests that the biggest risk comes from systems that recirculate air throughout the building. Whereas systems that utilize a supply of fresh air pose a much lower risk of spreading the virus.

The World Health Organization reiterates this stance and has advised businesses to increase the supply of fresh air into HVAC systems where possible. The WHO also suggest that increased maintenance must be undertaken to further prevent spread of the virus. This includes increased cleaning schedules for filters, particularly in high risk properties such as retail units and offices.

If you want to know more about how your HVAC systems are affected, contact your air conditioning contractor who will be able to advise on best practice for your property. If you don’t have one, give us a call. We work with many reputable Air Conditioning companies who will be happy to help.

Water systems

One of the most common questions regarding Coronavirus is ‘Can it be transmitted through water?’. According to Water UK, there is no evidence to suggest it can. However, there is still a significant risk you need to be aware of.

When the UK was put into lock down at the end of March, the majority of commercial buildings were closed. Whilst this actually reduced the risk of virus transmission, it increased the risk of contracting Legionnaire’s disease.

As buildings sat empty, the water within the pipes, tanks and other systems also sat still. Without regular flushing this water stagnates. This creates the perfect environment for Legionella bacteria to thrive and multiply.

The bacteria then spreads through airborne water droplets. The droplets are inhaled by humans and cause Legionnaire’s disease. Cases can be extremely dangerous for people of any age and health. The most extreme cases can lead to death.

We recommend taking precautions such as flushing your systems regularly. Cleaning taps, shower heads and water tanks thoroughly and regularly will also help to reduce risk.

If you haven’t done any of this, a Legionella Risk Assessment must be completed. Give us a call on 0800 499 7574 and one of our Legionella experts can advise you further.

What other precautions should my business be taking against Covid-19?

The NHS recommends business and property owners take additional precautions when returning to work.

Key recommendations include:

-Keeping staff 2 metres apart

-Providing hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60%

-Sanitizing surfaces regularly

-Wearing face coverings where possible

-Encouraging staff to wash hands thoroughly and regularly

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