The Health and Family Welfare Department, Punjab has issued fresh advisory on maintaining hygiene and sanitization of shops, shopkeepers and workers serving therein.
Disclosing this official spokesperson of the Punjab Government said that severe restrictions have already been imposed on free movement of people in the larger public interest for controlling the spread/ transmission of Coronavirus through the imposition of Curfew in its all 22 districts. The Government has, however, allowed essential activities to continue with an objective to minimize the hardships. The Government has also allowed shops selling varied products to operate subject to such shops meticulously following the preventive measures to control the spread of Coronavirus.
The spokesperson said that the General Guidelines incorporated in the new advisory say that only the shops allowed by the Government of Punjab shall open. He said that the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, Government of Punjab vide its letter no SS/ACSH/2020/310 dated 20.4.2020 has issued the detailed and consolidated guidelines elaborately laying the shops which have been allowed to operate. For the ease of reference, the extant guidelines provides that all facilities in the supply chain of essential goods, whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-commerce companies are allowed to operate. Shops (including Kirana and single shops selling essential goods) and carts, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food and groceries (for daily use), hygiene items , fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths poultry, meat and fish, animal feed and fodder etc,are allowed to operate subject to such shops following the special norms laid down by the Government to combat COVID-19 .
The shopkeepers are, thus, advised to meticulously follow the guidelines issued by the Government with regard to the nature of the shops that have been allowed to operate and to comply with the Standard operating procedure laid down in these guidelines as far as operating the shop is concerned.
As per this advisory the Shopkeepers associations are advised to install foot-operated Hand-washing Stations for the benefit of shopkeepers/their workers and visiting customers. However, the social distancing norm of maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter shall be followed while washing the hands by drawing marking circles in front of such Hand-washing Stations.
It has been advised to wash the hands with soap for at least 40 seconds by applying the soap gently on the palm and back of the hand including web spaces between the fingers and space between the finger and the thumb and the wrist wherever and whenever the opportunity to wash the hands is available. However, a two-hourly hand wash is recommended.
Likewise the advisory says that Alcohol-based sanitizer (minimum 70% ethyl alcohol v/v) should be mounted at the entrance wall of the shops for the shopkeeper and his/her workers as well as the customers to sanitize their hands before entering the premises further. The sanitizers are to be refilled/replaced frequently. Use a minimum of 3ml of the sanitizer (approximately2 pushes of sanitizer dispenser) on DRY HANDS for at least 30 seconds for good hygienic hand disinfection.
In the same breath other important points mentioned in the advisory included that one should Sanitize or wash the hands even if the hands appear to be apparently clean. The hands should be either sanitized or washed with soap and water whichever is feasible and available. The Shopkeeper and his workers should wear cloth mask at all times, i.e., immediately from leaving the house till the entry back into the house. The masks shall be worn in a manner that it snuggly covers the nose as well as the mouth. The cloth mask should be washed with soap and water daily after use. The shopkeepers and his workers should not indulge in any handshakes or hugs to greet/see-off each other.
The spokesperson further said that in the advisory all are advised to follow strict social distancing measures and maintain a minimum distance of 1 metre amongst them at all times. The shopkeepers and his workers are advised not to roam unnecessarily in the market places. The shopkeepers and his workers should wash their hands with soap in the manner prescribed or sanitize them in the manner prescribed before taking tea-breaks/lunch breaks. Sharing of food and utensils amongst themselves should not be done.
The shopkeeper and his workers should not smoke or chew tobacco-based products such as gutka, pan masala etc. in the shop/market places. In case of a cough/sneeze, the shopkeeper/workers should use the handkerchief to cover the face which shall then be kept in his/her own pocket/purse in a manner that the surface of the handkerchief exposed to the cough/sneeze shall not touch the other parts of the belongings directly. In case a shopkeeper/worker is not carrying the handkerchief he/she should cough/sneeze into the flexed/bent elbow. In either case, the shopkeeper/worker should immediately handwash with soap in the manner prescribed his hands/other exposed surfaces to cough/sneeze. The shopkeeper/worker should refrain from touching face, mouth, nose and eyes with his hands at all times. The shopkeeper/workers should not spit except when absolutely essential and only in the washbasin of the toilet in the shop/public toilet, which shall then be thoroughly cleaned in the manner prescribed. The shopkeepers/workers should avoid all type of gatherings like social, religious, political etc. The shopkeepers/workers should not indulge in gossip/rumours with regard to COVID-19 without verifying the facts. All are encouraged to download “COVA APP” developed by the Government of Punjab for the correct, timely and authentic information.
For the Disinfection of the shops advisory says that Indoor areas including the entire shop premises should be cleaned every evening at the time of closure of shops or early in the morning at the time of opening the shop. If the contact surface is visibly dirty, it should be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfection. Prior to cleaning, the worker should wear disposable rubber boots, gloves (heavy duty), and a cloth mask. Start cleaning from cleaner areas and proceed towards dirtier areas. All indoor areas such as the shelves, aisles, storage areas, godowns, basements etc. should be mopped with a disinfectant with 1% sodium hypochlorite or equivalent disinfectants available in the market. High contact surfaces such as public counters, intercom systems, equipment like telephone, printers/scanners, and other machines,handrails / handles should be cleaned twice daily by mopping with a linen/absorbable cloth soaked in 1% sodium hypochlorite. Frequently touched areas like table tops, chair handles, pens, diary files, keyboards, mouse, mouse pad, tea/coffee dispensing machines etc. should specially be cleaned. For metallic surfaces like door handles, security locks, keys etc. 70% alcohol can be used to wipe down surfaces where the use of bleach is not suitable. Carefully clean the equipment used in cleaning at the end of the cleaning process. Protective gear used during sanitation process should be discarded as per the requirements. In addition, all workers should consider cleaning the work area in front of them with a disinfecting wipe prior to use and sit one seat further away from others, if possible with 2. Likewise the advisory says that Outdoor Areas have less risk then indoor areas due to air currents and exposure to sunlight. Cleaning and disinfection efforts should be targeted to frequently touched/contaminated surfaces as already detailed above.
For Public toilet it has been advised that Sanitary workers must use separate set of cleaning equipment for toilets (mops, nylon scrubber) and separate set for sink and commode. They should always wear disposable protective gloves while cleaning a toilet. All the areas of the toilet such as the sinks, commode, taps etc. should be thoroughly cleaned/scrubbed using soap and water and then wiped with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution or equivalent commercial disinfectants available in the market.
The Specific Guidelines included in the advisory says that the shopkeeper should encourage home delivery, at-least to its long-established customers. The shopkeepers, in case of the visiting customers, should ensure a minimum distance of 1 metre amongst its waiting customers by marking the circles at the distance of 1 metre from each other outside the premises.The shopkeeper should ensure that the visiting customer is wearing the mask properly. All the customers entering the shop should be encouraged to sanitize their hands in the manner prescribed in point 5 of the general advisory. Similarly, the customer should be encouraged to sanitize their hands while leaving the shop premises. The customers should be advised to avoid touching any of the items displayed or kept otherwise in the shops which he/she does not intend to buy. The shopkeepers should encourage the customer to spell out the list of the items required at the designated counters whereby the same may be supplied by the shopkeeper or his/her workers. The shopkeeper should encourage the customer to digitally pay for the items purchased. The shopkeeper/his workers as well his customers shall sanitize their hands immediately before or after cash transactions. The shopkeeper should encourage the customers to carry cloth bags from their home only for making the purchases and carrying them. The cloth bags can then be washed with warm water and soap/detergent.
For the use of Air-Conditioning/Coolers in the shops the advisory says that shopkeepers should prefer natural ventilation at workplace. Exhaust Fans can be installed in the shop premises to increase the ventilation.
The advisory says that in case a shopkeeper/worker is diagnosed as COVID-19 with whom one had a contact, there is no need to panic. One should report to the Helpline No. 104/State Control Room No. 01722920074/08872090029, detailing the exact nature of exposure so as to assist the medical facility to undertake further necessary actions. The shopkeeper, in case a worker is diagnosed as corona positive and such a worker has reported to shop for duty, shall immediately inform the Helpline No. 104/State Control Room No. 01722920074/+91-8872090029 along with all the facts about the worker and the contacts he/she might have during the work at shop. A complete and proper record of all workers working at the shop on any particular day should be maintained.
In the end the advisory encouraged all citizen to take proper diet, assimilate correct information and keep themselves updated with the information at all times, and indulge in useful and productive activities during the available free time.