The world is gradually reopening as the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control through the use of vaccines and precautionary measures. The reality is, however, that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. Even people who have been vaccinated have at least some risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
As a result, it is imperative for communities to take steps to make their communities as safe as possible. Access gates are one of the best points for policing COVID-19 response policies, but they also introduce risks by potentially functioning as a point of transmission. Consequently, it is imperative for communities to understand the best access management practices for keeping their guests safe as the new normal begins.
1. Sanitize Surfaces Regularly
According to the CDC, COVID-19 can live on surfaces for weeks. Consequently, sanitizing surfaces is one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Sanitization is especially important on surfaces that people touch when entering a facility. Many gates are controlled with pin pads that everyone has to get their hands on before coming inside. In many cases, it makes sense to sanitize the buttons on pin pads at least every hour to minimize the potential for transmission. Some communities are also covering buttons in clear plastic that can easily and inexpensively be replaced on a regular basis.
In general, you should try to identify all points that guests entering your facility have to touch before getting inside. For instance, if your community is a condo development, nearly everyone will touch elevator buttons before entering. Sanitizing the surfaces most guests are touching can significantly reduce the risk of virus transmission.
2. Limit Access to Guests
Some communities focus on using gates as deterrents to make criminals less likely to come in. These communities can then avoid the challenges that come with going so far with security that residents and guests become inconvenienced. Today, however, it is crucial to carefully control which guests can enter a facility to avoid spreading COVID-19.
The specific restrictions that should be placed on guests can vary widely between communities. Of course, communities have to follow laws in their jurisdiction that may limit guest access. Also, many community management groups have designed their own safety protocols to prevent potentially infected people from gaining access. These restrictions have to be enforced at points of access since many people will try to break the rules.
In general, it is safe for most residential communities to accept guests who plan to visit a resident’s home. However, some communities may want to consider temporarily restricting access for delivery drivers as much as possible. For instance, some communities have delivery drivers leave packages outside their main gate to limit the potential for contamination. Some communities may also want to require guests to show proof that they took an RT-PCR test or received the vaccine. The bottom line is that communities may want to consider limiting which guests can enter their facilities.
3. Use Gates to Enforce Safety Protocols
Gates are the ideal point to enforce restrictions because everyone who enters a facility has to go through them. If your community has gates that are operated by a human guard, you can have the guard take the temperature of people entering your facility to identify people who may have COVID-19 symptoms. Guards can also require everyone to use hand sanitizer before and after touching surfaces, such as pin pads, fingerprint scanners, or door handles. By using gates to enforce measures that reduce the spread of COVID-19, communities can reduce case counts and make their residents safer.
4. Ensure Sanitation Policies Are Implemented
Relaxed attitudes toward safety protocols are one of the most significant problems that offices and residential communities are facing when attempting to control the spread of COVID-19. Many communities spend dozens of hours researching and writing detailed COVID-19 policies, but these policies can only be effective when they are actually enforced. In practice, many people given the monotonous task of enforcing safety protocols eventually start to skip key steps or wave on guests who break the rules.
One of the best ways of making sure that safety protocols are actually being implemented is to use secret shoppers. If your facility has high-quality cameras installed at points of access, you could use camera footage to observe whether protocols are being implemented properly.
In general, you should notify people tasked with policing safety protocols that you will be monitoring their behavior. People tend to avoid violating safety protocols when they believe there is a strong chance of getting caught. Additionally, if you catch an employee enabling guests to violate sanitation policies, be sure to give them a second chance. Everyone makes mistakes, and some people need to learn how they are accountable firsthand before changing their ways. However, by taking steps to ensure sanitation policies are implemented properly, you can strengthen the safety of any community.
5. Switch to Contactless Gate Access Solutions
As mentioned earlier, pin pads have the potential to spread COVID-19 because they have to be touched by everyone entering a facility. People with COVID-19 can infect surfaces, and other people who later touch these surfaces can catch the virus when they get it on their hands. Although COVID-19 cannot be absorbed through the skin, people who touch contaminated surfaces can get sick when they later touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.
Therefore, many communities are switching to contactless entry solutions that avoid the need for guests to use pin pads, fingerprint readers, or other legacy technologies that require touching a surface. Nimbio offers a contactless gate entry system that enables both community residents and guests to easily obtain access with their smartphone. Using a smart gate entry system, like Nimbio, can help to stop the spread of COVID-19 by eliminating physical points of contact that can give the virus the opportunity to spread.