How to Safely Reopen • Retail & Restaurants
COVID-19 has impacted every industry, especially restaurants and retail stores. In March, 44% of U.S. restaurants were temporarily closed and the sales rate for retail and foodservice declined 8.7%, the steepest since it began being tracked in 1992. Now, as lockdowns are eased throughout the country and businesses are allowed to reopen, companies are faced with a new normal that requires social distancing and constant cleaning in industries that are traditionally very social and high touch. When restaurants and stores reopen, customers can expect to see stickers on the floors to guide social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, and the use of face masks and gloves. But another component of the astringent sanitizing strategy that is easy and effective for restaurants and shops to implement is the use of UV-C sanitizing products.
In order to open safely and successfully, restaurants and stores must implement new hygiene methodologies to stop the spread of pathogens like COVID-19 from spreading. The virus spreads through direct contact with an infected host, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Social distancing and staff wearing face masks will reduce direct contact spread, and the use of UV-C sanitizing products will reduce transmission from surfaces.
While retail and restaurant owners are thinking of how to keep their space clean, many are not as focused on the problem of trying to keep customers from contaminating the surfaces in the space. Consider the fact that, on average, people touch their phone 2,500 times per day. At restaurants, diners often keep their contaminated phone on the table and use it many times during the meal. Each time they touch the phone and then touch the table, chair or bathroom door handle is a chance that they leave a virus behind. In retail, the same problem
exists as people use their phone and then touch products and surfaces throughout the store. A germ infected phone has the possibility of spreading the virus to staff, as well as other customers. The shared items that staff at retail stores and restaurants are required to use, like cash registers, ID badges and time clocks, create an additional opportunity for germs to spread quickly within these industries.
Using ultraviolet light to get rid of germs isn’t a new concept; it’s been used since the late 19th century. UV light within a certain wavelength has the ability to deactivate microorganisms by acting on its DNA and RNA. In fact, UV-C light is the only way to destroy antibiotic resistant pathogens. Consumer UV products have grown in popularity, but UV-C light is more effective because its wavelength of 250– 270nm is stronger, and mainly absorbed by the nucleic acids of microbial cells, making it the most lethal range of wavelengths.
UV-C light in restaurants and retail stores is a better cleaning solution than chemicals for smaller items. While pathogens can develop resistance to chemicals, they can’t to UV-C light. Chemical cleaners actually need to sit on a surface for two to five minutes to be effective, making them extremely inefficient for quick cleanings. Products like Lysol and Clorox work to remove germs, but only when used correctly. According to the CDC, it’s a two-step process where you first clean the surface removing germs and then spray or wipe with an EPA approved disinfectant to kill germs. Cleaning alone will not kill pathogens.
One way to reduce germs in your space is to prevent them from entering in the first place.
Restaurants and shops can offer customers phone disinfection upon entering and leaving the restaurant. Additionally, items like menus, tablets, staff badges, keyboards, keys, pens and other small items used at these businesses can quickly and easily be disinfected using UV-C products. This will keep both staff and other customers safer.
For example, some portable devices we manufacture kill 99.99% of harmful pathogens in under 60 seconds and can disinfect several items at once. These devices are a practical and economical solution for restaurants and retail, as a robust sanitizing strategy will be essential to getting back to business. As several businesses begin to reopen to the public, many are making the switch from liquid sanitizers to UV-C solutions instead.
As the world returns to a “new normal,” restaurant and retail must demonstrate the safety measures they’re taking to ensure customer and staff safety. It is highly unlikely that a business that doesn’t have a robust hygiene strategy will bounce back. Using top technology like UV-C sanitization products will help restaurants and stores not only ensure safety, but also a successful business in a world learning to live with COVID-19.
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