The opening of public toilets carries with it a risk of transmission of COVID-19 given the low levels of natural light, lack of ventilation, many surfaces to touch and the purpose of a toilet. Therefore, there is a need for careful consideration of how public toilets can be opened as safely as possible.
Safe opening will vary according to specific sectors and should align to the guidance provided by those sectors in terms of restart. Assurance that adequate sanitary facilities can be provided where appropriate is integral to the restart process.
Public toilets are defined as any toilets accessible to the public. The opening of toilets should be accompanied by local risk assessment, and control measures should be proactively monitored by operators. Most premises should have a norovirus policy that can be adapted for use in cleaning facilities if an individual with COVID-19 symptoms is known to have used the facilities.
Risk assessment should specifically include:
- remote/unmonitored facilities for which there may be increased demand as travel restrictions are eased and people start travelling greater distances
- janitorial staff for whom operators should already have procedures/PPE in place
Any modifications or changes must take existing regulations into account. Regulations on the provision of public toilets are governed by a number of British Standards developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI). The key standards which apply to the provision of public toilets are BS 6465 parts 1-4 and BS 8300
In opening toilets, operators should:
Prior to opening:
- conduct routine checks and take all measures appropriate to reopening after a prolonged closure e.g. consideration of requirements for legionella risk management due to stagnant water in plumbing systems
- adjustments must be made such as signage, taping off areas and floor markings to ensure physical distancing and facilitate good hand and other hygiene
- review all toilet and sanitary facilities (including disabled and baby change areas) to determine whether the fixtures and fittings are in good working order and replace or repair if not
- consider the need for additional waste management arrangements