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July 2020

6 Tips for Re-opening In-person, Shared Places

By Updates

Guest post by: Becky Nichols of Pirie Associates

As our clients are preparing to reopen during the COVID Pandemic, we wanted to share these Six Tips For Re-Opening In-Person, Shared Places from one of our architectural partners, Pirie Associates, below:

1. Know Your Enemy

Understanding how COVID-19 is transmitted and how to reduce the rate of infection is the first step to establish a physical space re-occupancy plan. Our recent work and research has led us to use these guiding principles:

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This is why physical distancing and mask wearing is so important!
  • Though not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, it can spread from surface to person by a person touching a contaminated surface, then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. This is one of the reasons why hand washing and cleaning surfaces, particularly those that are frequently touched like door handles, are important factors in reducing spread.
  • Many organizations, such as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, have acknowledged the likelihood of airborne transmission in interior spaces.Infection is a factor of exposure and time. For example, speaking releases 200 particles/minute (sneezing can be 200 million!). You will be exposed to more particles the more time you spend around an infected person. An infectious dose of COVID-19 is thought to be in the high hundreds or low thousands of particles.
  • Being outside is best. The odds of transmission in a closed environment are 18.7 times greater compared to an open-air environment!

2. Assess Rooms Individually.

Using a generalized square foot per person or percentage reduction in capacity DOES NOT WORK. We have experienced this ourselves by developing physically distant plan diagrams for a university and restaurant. We have heard the same feedback from colleague after colleague. We cannot recommend enough that each space be assessed individually. Things such as fixed seating, accessibility, room proportions, ventilation, circulation through the space, etc. can drastically impact safe capacity. Also, consider how people will enter and exit the room and get to their seat or workspace while maintaining distancing.

You can continue reading the remainder of guidelines here.