The government’s staged roll out to alert level 2 has been welcomed by the Building Service Contractors Association of New Zealand (BSCNZ), but the industry body has urged service providers to remain vigilant of misleading COVID-19 cleaning claims.
Sarah McBride, CEO of the BSCNZ, said the move to alert level 2 is a relief to many cleaning businesses, with the sector eager to get staff back to work.
“It’s welcomed news that we are moving to alert level 2. The re-opening of retail stores and hospitality venues including cafes and restaurants is a positive step forward for the industry, which is keen to get cleaning staff back on site and working.”
From Thursday 14 May, retail, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, and other public spaces including playgrounds and gyms, can reopen. All will be required to have physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place.
On Monday 18 May, schools will be allowed to re-open. Playground, sports equipment use and sports, including contact sports, can also resume and school transport services will also return to normal schedules.
Bars will be allowed to open from Thursday, 21 May under strict requirements – seating must be provided, there must be space between tables, and there must not be multiple waiters and waitresses serving a single table.
In preparation for the phased roll out, industry bodies and organisations including Hospitality NZ, Retail NZ, the New Zealand Council of Retail Property and Exercise NZ have all released sector-based guidelines and operational protocols.
All guidelines include strict cleaning and hygiene measures such as the placement of hand sanitiser at key locations; ongoing cleaning and sanitising, focused on high touchpoint surfaces, daily additional surface hygiene and in some cases, the shift to night-time staff to daytime to increase cleaning focus and reinforce enhanced hygiene expectations.
According to McBride, BSCNZ members have reported an increase in cleaning shifts, as well as an increase in requests for increased cleaning and disinfection frequency, including surface wiping and high touch point disinfection.
However, McBride warns that misinformation continues to spread about cleaning products and methods to prevent and mitigate COVID-19.
“There’s is a lot of misinformation being stipulated about cleaning products and processes such as a disinfectant that lasts 12 hours and fogging that lasts for 19 days,” McBride said.
“Every [site] will have different requirements. Cleaning contractors should be asking their customers what their concerns are and explaining to their customers correct methods and procedures.
“There’s a high level of anxiety about COVID-19 and New Zealanders are being incredibly cautious about returning to their workplaces and children returning school, but proper and effective cleaning is the biggest reassurance you can give a customer or a student that their workplace or school has been effectively cleaned.”
Standardised approach to COVID-19 cleaning
In response to the false cleaning claims, the BSCNZ and Careerforce are currently developing a COVID-19 specific training module, which is expected to be released later this month.
McBride said the new module developed in collaboration with industry training organisation aims to create standardised cleaning methods and terminology for the industry.
“The training module will be for cleaning companies to use and to be able to clarify some of the misinformation that is out there at the moment about how to clean for COVID-19,” McBride said.
“The focus for the industry now is also understanding what the new normal looks like for them and their customer base. But the one thing that has not changed throughout all of this is that cleaning is an essential service and we are going to provide the assurance to people that to get back out there and get on with life.
Careerforce recently released a series of online training modules in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in response to COVID-19.
The six learning modules, which largely focus on hand hygiene and infection prevention, are available to be accessed through the Ministry of Health’s LearnOnline website.
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