How to prep for and enforce the new normal.
This month marks the beginning of New York State’s reopening after Governor Cuomo’s “New York on PAUSE” order in March. But this doesn’t mean things go back to the way they were before – building owners must make special considerations in how best to protect their customers and staff from the virus upon reopening.
First off, you’ll need to start preparing before the building even reopens so things can run smoothly from Day 1.
- Summon representatives from all areas of building maintenance to help formulate your reopening plan – custodial, security, etc.
- While no special ventilation is required by the CDC, verify that HVAC systems are functioning properly, with emphasis on air circulating systems.
- Change any necessary filters.
- Develop a water management plan in order to head off the risk of waterborne pathogens like Legionnaire’s.
- Program HVAC systems to provide flushing 2 hours before and post occupancies.
- If this is not possible, open all windows if weather permits 2 hours before and 2 hours post occupancy.
As social distancing rules are still in effect for the time being, you’ll need to consider all of the following:
- Keep common areas shut down for at least 30 days after reopening.
- Limit access points into building.
- Create some ground rules on how to manage deliveries, including takeout and mail.
- Limit capacity and enforce social distancing in elevators.
- In case of an emergency exit, remind building occupants to maintain social distance when possible while exiting the building without compromising their safety.
Cleaning & Disinfecting
COVID-19 can live on certain surfaces for two to three days, so frequent cleaning is a major factor to keep occupants and staff safe at this time.
- All sinks should have clean water, soap and paper towels at all times. Custodial staff should keep an eye on supplies.
- Provide cleaning/sanitation stations in highly-frequented areas.
- Ensure custodial staff are disinfecting the building according to guidance from the EPA and CDC.
- Some highly-touched surfaces that will need special attention are:
(Please refer to the CDC for a full list.)
- Door knobs and handles
- Stair rails
- Light switches
- Handles on equipment (e.g., athletic equipment)
- Push-buttons on vending machines and elevators
- Shared telephones
- Shared desktops
- Shared computer keyboards and mice
While you can take all the precautions in the world, occupants and staff need to take precautions of their own. You can help others to protect themselves and those around them by building awareness of proper distancing and sanitation procedures:
- Communicate with building tenants in advance of opening.
- Provide an easily-accessible digital file of safety policies with coordinating signage throughout the building (including any updated visitor policies).
- Make it clear to employees that they need to:
- Wear face coverings at all times.
- Wash hands upon leaving and entering building.
- Maintain appropriate social distance.
This is a challenging time for everyone. But as New York moves into this next phase, building owners can help bridge the gap from surviving to living under this virus by following guidelines and being an example for others to do the same.
On top of all the additional safety precautions needed for buildings in New York City right now, all the temporary changes at the Department of Buildings and other city agencies can become overwhelming. Outsource Consultants is ready to consult with you about any phase of a project and will help you navigate through all the temporary changes at the DOB and other city agencies.