Businesses must ensure that their buildings are adequately ventilated to combat the risk of coronavirus, according to guidance updated by the government post-lockdown.
The Health and Safety Executive said the “law requires employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and this has not changed during the pandemic".
It advises that "good ventilation, together with social distancing, keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing, can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus" and said the "guidance will help you identify poorly ventilated areas of your workplace and provides steps you can take to improve ventilation".
Separately, a survey commissioned by CleanAir Spaces, found that the majority (56 per cent) of people think more about indoor air quality than before the pandemic hit.
Although millions of people have been welcomed back by the hospitality sector over the past week (with or without a substantial meal), less than a quarter (24 per cent) believe that the air quality inside pubs and restaurants does not increase their chances of contracting Covid-19.
More than half (53 per cent) are confident that the air quality inside venues does affect their chances of catching the virus.
However, perhaps illustrative of the government’s challenges in communicating the science around Covid-19, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of UK consumers don’t know whether air quality in venues would increase their risk.
The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of 085 adults throughout the UK conducted by polling company, ORB International and suggest that businesses have a lot to do to make visitors feel safe within their environments, but also offer an indication on how they can answer those concerns.
Nearly half of respondents (47 per cent) said that an air-quality rating system would help them to choose one venue over another.
A separate index report by facilities services provider Phs Group found that nearly half of consumers (46 per cent) think that the closing down of venues such as pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential retail makes them feel they are not Covid-safe.
Even more, 51 per cent, said they actively avoid indoor settings as they didn’t want to risk catching Covid-19 and more than one in 10 (13 per cent) have even walked out of premises because they didn’t feel comfortable.
Fluid mechanics expert Professor Paul Linden, of Cambridge University, said: “Indoor air quality is a real concern in the spread of coronavirus. Much of the focus on Covid-19 has been the transmission by physical touch and larger droplets expelled when an infected person breathes, talks and coughs, but what we’re not talking about enough is the smaller infected droplets and particles which remain airborne and are not contained by masks.
"Growing evidence indicates these infected aerosols linger in the air for hours at a time and can be spread around a building – even after an infected person has left creating an extended risk of transmission. During the winter, we’re more likely to be spending time indoors with less natural ventilation, meaning the air we breathe could be more concentrated with particulates. If we fail to combat the risk of airborne infection, we risk being exposed by a large gap in our defences. Improving indoor air quality must be at the forefront if we truly want to create Covid-safe environments.”
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