We have all become much more aware of the risks of contracting infections during the Covid-19 pandemic, so as we enter a new unlocking phase, here are some tips to keep in mind if you need to use the public restroom. during your outings and about.
Are public toilets safe to use?
Public toilets by definition carry a higher risk of infection than toilets in your home because they are used by a greater number of people whose state of health is unknown. Add to that the lack of responsibility that some people take over their hygiene when using these facilities. And that is before even considering the additional dimension of detecting infections during a pandemic.
Are public restrooms a particularly risky place to retrieve Covid-19?
Recent reports have drawn attention to the so-called “toilet plume” – the infectious droplets present in the air in the toilet after use. A study published in the journal Physics of Fluids focused on the potential risk of infection with virus-laden feces, outside of the known spread of respiratory droplet infection. As the infection rate of the new coronavirus remains low in Ireland, the risk of being infected in this way also remains low; however, flushing the toilet with the lid down (using toilet paper to rest the lid rather than your bare hands) before use and waiting a minute before using the toilet is an additional precaution that you can take to avoid any kinds of insects.
What other precautions should I take when using public toilets?
Avoid touching a surface with your bare hands when using the toilet. Open the bathroom door with a tissue, then throw the tissue into the toilet. Install the toilet lid after using it before flushing the toilet. Stay away from toilets equipped with an automatic water flusher. Above all, wash and dry your hands thoroughly after using the toilet. Some experts also recommend wearing a face mask to avoid exposure to infectious droplets in and around public restrooms. Avoid touching your face until you have washed and dried your hands.
Are some public toilets safer than others?
Local authorities and shopping centers have adopted new hygiene protocols around public toilets in recent weeks. Dublin City Council has installed new public toilet facilities outside St Stephen’s Green shopping center in Dublin 2 and in Wolfe Tone Square in Dublin 1, which are run by a cleaner and a security guard daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Since their installation, they have been used more than 1,000 times a day. In Dundrum town center, only one out of every two washrooms, urinals and sinks is used. If queues form, the restrooms are closed and customers are directed to the restrooms on the other levels of the mall.
Are public restrooms in shopping malls safer than public restrooms on the street?
This is questionable as it depends on the frequency with which the toilets are cleaned and the measures of social distance and hygiene observed by the users of these installations. However, one thing is clear, toilets with multiple stalls (as opposed to a single public toilet) which are not all in constant use allow users to choose a toilet which has been free for longer, thus reducing the risk of picking up an infection from someone who just got out of the bathroom. Lavatories with windows create additional airflow, which also reduces the risk of infection.
What about toilets in pubs, restaurants and cafes?
Pubs, cafes and restaurants were advised to have a clear queuing system in place, in order to respect social distancing measures. The toilet must be cleaned at least twice a day. Soap, hand sanitizer dispensers and disposable tissue dispensers should be checked, cleaned and maintained regularly.
The use of toilets in bars, cafes and restaurants is at the discretion of the owner / manager of the premises. However, some owners / managers may require contact information for those who use the restroom for contact tracing purposes if an outbreak of Covid-19 is traced to that particular bar or restaurant.
How to avoid using public toilets?
Go to the bathroom just before you leave your house and limit the fluids you consume while traveling.