COVID-19: Cleaning for businesses and education centres

This information outlines ongoing cleaning expectations for businesses and education centres at Alert Level 1.

Last updated: 21 September 2020

If you have been advised that a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case has entered your business or education centre, contact your local district health board infection prevention and control service or public health unit who can advise you on the cleaning and disinfection procedures that are required.

The virus that causes COVID-19 will be killed by thorough cleaning and disinfection practices. Any surfaces that are frequently touched should be prioritised for cleaning, such as door handles, handrails, light switches, horizontal surfaces such as counter tops and tables, EFTPOS machines, touch screens, taps, sinks and toilets.

How long can COVID-19 remain on surfaces?

COVID-19 is spread by droplets and contact with surfaces that infectious droplets have landed on. This means that when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may generate droplets containing the virus. These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.

COVID-19 can survive on different surfaces for different lengths of time. The exact time is dependent on the surface, temperature, and humidity but studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard. Further information on how long the COVID-19 virus can survive for can be found on the WHO website.

Cleaning expectations

People need to continue to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and objects. If you are responsible for any aspects of cleaning of businesses and education centres, then you should continue to ensure your cleaning and disinfection process follows the normal cleaning routine and products used. You do not need to wear any special personal protective equipment (PPE) other than gloves required for health and safety reasons specified by the manufacturer’s recommendations for the cleaning products you use. If you are using disinfectant, follow the instructions for use.

It’s important to maintain good hand hygiene practices and encourage people at your premises to do the same. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry thoroughly after cleaning and disinfecting.

Ensure that:

  • staff and public toilets are well stocked with soap
  • paper towels are available, or hand driers are functional
  • shared spaces (for example, staff rooms and kitchens) have a good cleaning routine to keep staff and visitors well.

In education centres, hand sanitiser and tissue boxes should be made readily available for staff and students to use. Young children may need supervision when using hand sanitiser. It should be placed in a safe location to avoid inappropriate use.

See cleaning frequently asked questions.

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