The awareness of safety, cleanliness, and hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer or alcohol have been basic guidelines during the pandemic. Experts from the American Restroom Association have said that public restrooms are evolving into cleaner and safer environments.
Kathryn Anthony, the vice president of the American Restroom Association expressed the need for improvement in designing public restrooms. For instance, with the physical distancing guidelines, the usual design of men's side-by-side urinals is no longer ideal.
Anthony said that during this time of coronavirus, it's become increasingly 'important that we all have clean, safe restrooms to go to.' Currently, public restrooms provide too little privacy while the virus can easily form on many surfaces where indirect transmission could occur through fomites.
At Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, they've made renovations to all bathrooms since February this year. The upgraded restrooms are more private, safer, and touchless.
Outside the stalls are Tooshlights that indicate if a stall is occupied or not. Kevin Dillon, head of the Connecticut Airport Authority said that the system is activated when one enters a stall. Green means that the stall is available while red indicates that it is occupied.
Experts have also been analyzing the movement of microbes when toilets get flushed. A toilet plume is when microscopic particles or aerosol droplets are dispersed after the toilet is flushed.
Jim Walsh from American Standard said, 'I think that you want to make sure that microbes aren't escaping the toilet when you flush it.' The company continues to discover and create toilet designs that could avoid plumes that can potentially contain coronavirus and other harmful bacteria.
To eliminate the plume, explained Walsh, it would have to do with the 'velocity, angles, and design' of toilets. They've been working on touchless devices such as self-cleaning urinals.
The company has also been testing designs with deeper sings to control toilet plumes and adding antimicrobial substances too. As American Standard and other companies figure out a way to limit the splash during flushes, businesses do their best to ensure the safety of their customers.
Creating a Safe Environment
From small movie theaters to large casinos, businesses have used police tape or other means to block off urinals so men would be physically distanced in the restroom. At the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, management has made sure that the attendants have been trained to remind visitors to wash their hands before leaving the restroom.
Hamilton said that when attendants gently remind, 'Hey, don't forget to wash your hands,' most of the people turn around to do so. He added that the company needs, 'to create an environment and a business where people feel safe.'
'Using a public restroom, especially while taking precautions like maintaining physical distance from others and practicing good hand hygiene, is quite likely to be less risky than attending a gathering with people from other households,' said Susan Amirian from Rice University in Texas.