Planning Out Re-entry Operations in Facilities Amidst the Covid-19 Outbreak

This week, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) released an informative new document to guide the reopening of commercial facilities during the novel coronavirus outbreak. This detailed six-page guide talks about the safety and prevention measures that need to be followed in order to prepare facilities for re-entry of tenants, building personnel, vendors, contractors, etc. Here’s a quick look at the topics which are covered:

  • Preparing facilities for re-entry: The best time to plan out a re-entry is before the lockdown restrictions are lifted where representatives from the building team should consult with state, local and federal guidelines, and communicate plans regularly to residents and visitors of facilities.
  • Maintaining social distancing and wearing PPE: Building representatives and service providers responsible for getting the building ready, need to follow all the social distancing guidelines laid out by the CDC and WHO.
  • Closing common areas: Tenants should refrain from using common areas like conference rooms, social gathering halls and fitness centers even 30 days after the lockdown restrictions are lifted. The common areas must be sanitized and cleaned properly and there must be ample supply of trash containers, wipes and hand sanitizers in all common and public areas within the facility.
  • Use of cabs and elevators: Maintaining social distancing will require constant checks on the number of riders in cabs and people using the elevators. Also, cleaning operations must be planned and executed frequently, including disinfecting high touch surfaces, stairwells, handrails, elevators, etc.
  • Building Access: If a facility has multiple entry and exit gates, they must all be limited with only one functional entry and exit point. Security personnel should be appointed at each gate and must be educated on social distancing protocols. Delivery options can be encouraged in discussion with the tenants and delivery security protocols must be deployed.
  • Janitorial: It is essential to consult with janitorial contractors to do a thorough analysis of the amount of cleaning the building requires, while creating proper inventory to ensure cleaning supplies are in adequate quantity before re-entering any building. This analysis will provide a clear idea of the areas which are used most often and require deep cleaning. A defined COVID-19 cleaning program should be put in place to ensure if any tenants or visitors become ill or test positive for COVID-19, deep cleaning and disinfection of all affected building areas should be scheduled.

  • Mechanical Systems – All heaters, ventilators and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment should be run and tested properly before starting building re-entry and ensure regular HVAC maintenance including filter changes following ASHRAE guidelines for operating HVAC systems to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

  • Communication with Tenants – It is of utmost importance to ask tenants to communicate their plans prior to re-entry and update the tenants regularly about building updates, including their responsibilities towards maintaining social distancing, use of PPE, regular temperature monitoring and other health and safety procedures.

The above are just some of the details provided in the BOMA document. Be sure to download the complete guide to learn more.