To open or not to open. Most condo boards and managers are wondering how to safely reopen public spaces in their buildings, including shared gyms.
According to rules for areas of the province in phase three, “the total number of members of the public permitted to be at the facility in areas containing weights or exercise machines at any one time must be limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the facility, and in any event cannot exceed 50 persons.”
If a condo does choose to reopen its gym, there is much to consider, from social distancing to proper cleaning and disinfecting. The public has had the time and self-interest to educate themselves on the risks, causes and how to prevent or lower the risk of an outbreak. And let’s face it, there has never been such an emphasis on cleaner, safer spaces than there is now.
We must also understand that we are cleaning and disinfecting public gyms not only to manage the risk of spreading COVID-19, but also to keep a long list of bacteria and other viruses at bay.
Your gym needs to make a great re-entry impression. This impression may only be for appearances, but it really matters—especially now, and especially after being closed for so long. If your gym looks, smells and appears well organized, that is a good start. It will be very important to provide visible hand washing and sanitizing stations, with ample paper products and a quality hand soap or hand sanitizer. You will want to now have social distancing signage and employee plexi-screens when applicable. These new signals are basic, everyday expectations in today’s world.
Develop your SOP
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are essential in the time of a global pandemic, and beyond. What worked before for your condominium gym will not work today. Not sure where to start? The good news is that in the cleaning industry, you have many resources to help you develop SOP from scratch. All you have to do is ask. The distributor or manufacturer of your cleaning products and equipment will be more than happy to lend their expertise and support you in developing your SOP.
Disinfect the right way
COVID-19 has identified a major shortfall in education surrounding proper disinfection and cleaning procedures. There are five major points when it comes to disinfection. If you do not follow these points, you run the risk of cross contamination, or even outbreak.
- You must use a registered disinfectant with either an EPA (US) or DIN (Canada) number. These registration numbers show that the product is effective against killing the viruses and microorganisms it claims to kill when the proper process is followed.
- You must dilute exactly according to the label directions (read the instructions).
- Pre-clean all surfaces before you apply your disinfectant. This removes soil that can interfere with the disinfectant’s effectiveness.
- Respect the required dwell time. Dwell times are always printed on a disinfectant’s label. This is the amount of time you will need to leave the disinfectant wet on a surface for the disinfectant to achieve its kill claims.
- Conduct a potable water rinse in areas of food contact.
Unfortunately, the smallest percentage of public facilities follow these guidelines, and this alone may be where our problem begins.
What to disinfect when
Government directives also state that equipment, as well as any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
A gym has many different types of surfaces, and most of them are high-contact. People touch everything in a gym. That means the maintenance or cleaning staff will need to clean and disinfect all of your surfaces frequently, which means several times a day depending on use.
A quick overview of surfaces that will need to be cleaned and disinfected frequently includes all gym equipment, in addition to the entire ‘’resident transfer trail.” This includes all areas that residents walk through to get to the facility, like elevator buttons, push bars and handles.
You should be advertising your cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocol with cleaning timelines and frequencies recorded for the public to see. Frequency depends on your staff makeup, the popularity of your gym, and the peak times of use. This is a topic that will need to be included in your SOP.
Self-cleaning stations are highly recommended for gyms in addition to regularly scheduled cleaning and disinfecting protocol by staff. These stations allow the public to use wet wipes, sanitizers or even disinfectants on their equipment before they use it, as well as after their personal use.
If you don’t already have one, now is the time to set one up. Post signage encouraging residents to clean before and after personal use. Advertise which products you are using and even list if they are registered with Health Canada or the EPA to be effective against COVID-19.
What have you done to ensure the safety of your condo building’s residents? Be sure to advertise all of the procedures, cleaning methods and investments in new cleaning programs that you have completed. After all, COVID-19 has proven that we need to do a better job of lowering the risk of an outbreak and be kinder to those that surround us. You are 100 per cent responsible for your contribution to making our world a cleaner, safer place.
Jim Flieler is vice-president of Canadian sales and marketing at Charlotte Products.