Deciphering the detail - what do I actually need to ready my premises to open again?


An easy to understand sign posted guide to what you actually need to open your hotel, bar, restaurant, self catering property again.....

There have been a lot of protocol documents and guidance documents thrust under my nose recently by the accounts/customers that I personally manage. A lot of the language within these documents is overly complex, sometimes contradictory, I’m just a bit too much for anybody to digest. I currently have open on my desktop ‘Cleaning protocols for self catering properties and short-term let in the context of COVID-19‘; This document is 20 pages long, and is trying to distinguish the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, it gives a lot of European Standard numbers but fails to explain what is European standard numbers actually mean to the man on the street.

In my opinion this document is only thinking about the hygiene implications, when actually the reader is thinking about how these protocols are going to make my customer feel; if I follow these cleaning regimes am I going to manage to open on time; in my short term let am I going to turn this around to get the property ready for the next person?  These are all questions that this document fails to answer.  I would say a common thread of all these protocol documents and guidance documents is that it’s not written for the reader; it’s just a set of rules and regulations and I think the approach needs to be a bit softer, a bit more helpful, giving the reader a good steer as to what they need to do, what products they need to procure, and to get the premises ready for opening/for the next let.

In this weeks’ blog I am going to attempt to put some clarification around this very murky set of documents, and I would hope to clarify a few simple things which will make your life as a business owner easier. This weeks’ blog is not about ripping apart somebody else’s document, it’s about enhancement of the document to make everything clear, easily understandable and to point you in the direction of some good quality products which will make your life easier.

So lets jump right in!

These documents are all introduced in the same way, putting the responsibility of every self-catering, short-term rental operator, pub landlord, restaurateur that they have a public health responsibility to ensure the accommodation, restaurant or pub is clean; and that any potential virus is removed to the best of their ability to prevent any spread.

The documents go on to talk about the duty of care to customers and to staff, and it talks about retraining and procurement of the right equipment to make sure that everybody can do the job affectively.

I wanted to start this blog by talking about something that none of the guidelines are mentioning, and it’s critical in terms of how you as a business owner have but has built your business. Your business is built on a brand that you have put your blood sweat and tears into and with regard to the majority of businesses that are successful, empathy is at the core of your business.

All successful businesses think about what the customer needs; what they want; how are certain set of behaviours will make them feel, and within all of these rules and regulations how the customer is feeling hasn’t been addressed. Neither has how these protocols and rules and regulations will make your staff feel, because during my early career I learned that your people determine the success of your business; People Make Performance. So it is important to make sure that your people/staff are comfortable it is equally important to make sure your customers are happy and comfortable.

Writing this document I had to think about where do we tow the line?  How important is the screen at your reception bar etc?  Will the screen make your people and your customers feel safer? Will it make them feel less than relaxed? Will your people feel exposed without a screen? So which provisions do we put in place, to make people safer which in turn might make people feel uneasy; or do we put provisions in; or do we go down the route of everybody feeling normal and then some people feel at risk? It is a tight rope! And it’s one that as a business who has built your brand on empathy, you need to think really carefully about what your customer wants? What do they want to see? What do you need to put in place to make them feel safe? Equally your staff; what do they need to feel safe what will they think is excessive? This all has to be considered alongside the guidelines, because if your customers don’t feel secure or relaxed you haven’t got a business.

So I’m aware I’m talking quite high-level here so I’m going to get into some specific examples. A Bar owner recently asked me to come along to see them, and they said that they were looking to procure some PPE to help their staff feel comfortable in terms of coming back to work. The bar owner was asking me to quote him for three ply surgical masks; facial visors; distance tape; nitrile gloves; stickers for the floor – stay 2m away.  I sat there and listen to the bar owner and all I can think of is that somebody had put the fear of god into him because he was so afraid to open, and so afraid to offend, and so afraid to make his staff dissatisfied that this was his plan! I asked them some questions in terms of when you open your bar how do you want your customers to feel? And he responded and said you wanted them to feel safe, but relaxed, relax enough to stay and have a good few drinks and allow him to put some money in his till; that had not had any money on it for a long long time. I then asked him if he thought that somebody handed over a pint of beer to him and they had half of their face covered in a mask and peering at them through a visor, shoving a pint of beer as far over the bar as possible with hands clad in gloves how that would allow the customer to feel relaxed? His response was No!

Another customer I went to see recently was talking about their intentions to put up perspex screens around there till area, and there was an internal debate as to whether not they should have a hole in the screen to be passing through drinks.  One member of the team thought that there should be no hole because that would leave the staff exposed and another thought there should be a hole, so that it was easier to pass through drinks. My comments on this was that nobody is talking about the microbiology of this virus and we know that Covid can last 2 to 3 days on plastics. Therefore if you are passing glasses of drinks, taking money etc you are potentially passing the virus back and forth unwittingly.

This is a problem which we are trying to address here at Astral, by selling and encouraging everyone to use an antibacterial hand gel which leaves a barrier behind which is very effective at killing bacteria and viruses within 30 seconds.  If all establishments like this were using this gel rather than an alcohol hand gel it would be in fact very difficult to pick up the virus in a public place.  Now don’t get me wrong, the alchohol gel is very effective in other situations, but in places where things are constantly being passed back wards and forwards the added protection of the antibacterial gel is absolutely great for these environments.


We must also acknowledge that our population is split in to numerous perspectives about the dangers of Covid, all of which must be accepted and empathised with as a business owner. Some people are much more relaxed about the whole pandemic (here I’m talking about how people go about their daily lives) and some people are much more fearful and anxious about the prospect of getting it. I think it is a fair assumption that it will be the more relaxed cross section of the population that come to stay in your let, or come for a meal out or a few drinks, certainly in the first instance.

That being said they will want to see that you and your people are taking care to protect their safety.  They will want to see regular table wiping with the right chemicals.  Hand sanitiser readily available and social distancing being observed.

Within the guidelines all self catering, hoteliers, pubs and restaurants are being advised to procure a virucidal chemical to clean, disinfect and sanitise.  Astral Hygiene have several which carry the nominated accreditation EN 14476 and EN 14475. Virucidal Sprays carrying EN 14476 and EN 14475, have been tested on viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, such as the SARS Virus, MERS, HIV Virus etc.   You should also consider using a BS EN 1276 chemical such as the new Alcohol Professional surface sanitiser.  The virucidal sprays we carry include Selgiene Extreme available in both 750ml’s and 5lts, or Safezone which also carries the accrediations, available in 750ml and 5ltr.

These products should keep you within your guidelines for Virucidal Sprays.  With regard to the Sodium hypochlorite recommendation, this is commonly referred to as bleach.  We provide liquid bleach and bleach tablets,    which will kill bacteria and viruses.

Bleach is highly effective in combating most of the pathogens that cause diseases with 99.9%

germ kill. The latest advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is to use diluted

Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) at 0.5% as the recommended solution for disinfection of

frequently touched surfaces in homes and healthcare facilities – especially those housing

patients with suspected or confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection.   All bleach products contain between 0.5% and 4.5% Sodium Hypochlorite and given the structural similarities of the COVID-19 virus to the Coronavirus strains tested previously (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Human Coronavirus), and based on the evidence available to us, bleach is assumed to be effective against the new strain.

The guidance document also goes on to tell the reader that Supermarket products do not kill 99.999% of germs, and they also don’t comply with BS EN 1276, which is really important in helping you to manage infection control – so a good BS EN 1276 product should be in everybodies kitchen! Ours is definitely superior, killing 99.999% of germs in 30 seconds – which is the quickest around.  Get it by clicking here. Available in both 750ml’s and 5ltrs, this Kitchen Cleaner is a definite favourite of mine!

I definitely found the guidance document to be overly cumbersome, so I thought it would be useful to publish this weeks blog and clearly sign post you to some good quality chemicals that meet all of the accreditations the guidance document is talking about effectively taking all of the leg work out of it for you.

Thanks for reading, and all the very best for opening when the time comes…..


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