In Depth

Seven ways to beat coronavirus when lockdown ends

Keeping cats at home and anti-clockwise walks could reduce risk of more infections

A team of Cambridge University biosecurity and conservation experts has put together a list of 275 suggestions to reduce the spread of coronavirus after lockdown is eased.

Featured on the list are stopping pet cats from roaming outdoors, making shoppers pick up products with tongs and suggesting that people walk clockwise around parks at specific times of the day, depending on their age.

It was created by “documenting our experience of options, consulting guidance, contacting people working in different countries to explore the range of options and crowd-sourcing ideas through social media” say the researchers.

Here are seven highlights:

Hook-up ban

The list suggests that physical contact be banned outside of household groups or an officially listed “bubble” of friends.

“Ask people to identify their bubble – being everyone they live with or must have contact with during ‘lockdown’ – and ask people to stay as much as possible within their bubble,” the researchers recommend, citing New Zealand as an example.

This would mean any Tinder dates planned for the end of lockdown would have to remain at a distance.

Handshakes, kissing and hugging should all be prevented, while “alternative forms of physical contact with a reduced risk of transmission, such as alternative handshakes” should be identified and promoted.

Work from home

The government instruction at present is that all non-essential workers should work from home where possible.

However, the Cambridge University researchers suggest that working from home continues for as many people as possible even after the lockdown is officially relaxed.

They say that the government and employers should continue to “enforce working from home for all jobs where this is possible” and “enforce non-working for all non-essential jobs where home working is not possible”.

On your bike

The Cambridge academics recommend that governments offer bicycles so that people can avoid public transport, citing Prague as an example of this.

In London, this could be as simple as making the existing Santander bikes free to use for a limited period.

To complement this, officials should also widen existing bike lanes and create new ones, to encourage bike use and allow cyclists more physical space.

Take the temperature

In countries like China, routine temperature testing of people entering and leaving public buildings and workplaces has been carried out since the start of the outbreak.

The idea is that people with a fever should not be allowed access and should be sent home, because they may be unknowingly carrying and spreading the virus.

Keep it contactless

To help prevent physical contact between strangers, card payments should be encouraged to avoid shoppers and cashiers handling money or touching hands.

Paying via contactless is even better, because it removes the need for a customer to touch the card machine they are using. The Cambridge team recommends that contactless payments should be encouraged, and limits should be increased from the £30-£40 maximum payments that are allowed by most UK banks today.

Shops should also “make paying by contactless the default option at self-checkouts (as done in Estonia) to reduce the need to touch the screen”.

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Tongs

Tools used in shops, such as tongs to pick up items from a supermarket bakery section, should be disinfected between each use.

Where possible, individuals should “bring their own tools, such as tongs to pick up shopping and probes to press PIN (tools ideally designed to be multifunctional). Tool decontamination available at entry and exit.”

Using gloves at common facilities such as petrol pumps should be encouraged. People should eat with clean utensils rather than using their fingers.

Staplers

“Individuals have sole use of usually shared objects, such as staplers”, recommend the researchers.

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