Protection is more important than ever now – as the temperature drops, the number of coronavirus cases is rising significantly again.
There are many reasons for this. For example, unlike in the summer months, we spend much of our lives indoors, and viruses generally survive longer in cold temperatures. This makes Germany’s AHAL rules, which cover social distancing, hygiene, wearing a mask and the recently added regular ventilation, and similar ones in other countries, all the more vital. However, this is not possible everywhere. People in fields that involve direct personal contact or where crowded spaces are unavoidable will always be particularly at risk. This ranges from school classrooms and public transport to food and hospitality. Although there were provisional solutions at the start of the pandemic, such as protecting bus drivers by blocking off the forward area of the vehicle, the time soon came for new ideas. When buses in Hamburg were fitted with screens on a large scale, it received coverage beyond simply the local press. While a previous post covered the various cough and sneeze guard solutions from item, this time we are focusing on specific practical examples, including our part in the project to make bus travel in Hamburg safe.
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Buses in Hamburg keep on rolling, despite COVID
From 14 March 2020, the front doors of public buses in Hamburg stayed closed, while the driver’s area was blocked off with warning tape and the front few seats were not to be used. All this was designed to keep the drivers safe from the coronavirus. Between late June and mid-August, the two public transport providers Hamburg Hochbahn and Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH) undertook an impressive refurbishment programme that involved individually retrofitting 1500 buses and equipping them with safety glass partitions to protect the drivers. Clamp Profiles from item were also on board for the frames. Jan Dressler from item Hamburg says: “There were three different solutions in the running, and we came out ahead. We delivered the Clamp Profiles to Hamburg with thread tappings, fasteners, T-Slot Nuts and Caps, and in various lengths and numbers, since different types of bus are used. The customer installed these on site at six different bus depots.”
Now the work is complete, the forward area of the buses is finally accessible again. There are several advantages to this. Firstly, staff can sell tickets without worrying about their health. Secondly, since the front doors can be used for ventilation and improved passenger distribution, air circulation in the bus is better. Nonetheless, masks remain compulsory. There is not yet any firm indication of how long these solutions will be in place. It is very possible, however, that they will continue to be used even after the pandemic is over, as they offer good general protection from viruses in the cold and flu season. Our cough and sneeze guards found another unusual application in Hamburg. When we heard that Daniel Schmidt, landlord of the famous “Elbschlosskeller” pub had adopted the motto “If not us, then who?” and was distributing clothing and food to those in need, we provided a protective enclosure and a sanitiser stand to support his charitable efforts.
Cough and sneeze protection for early-years learners
When it comes to the question of how easily young children get infected themselves and infect others, there are a range of opinions. One thing everyone agrees on, however, is that both children and staff in kindergartens and schools need the best possible protection. This was the case at the Paulusschule in Düsseldorf. Before the summer holidays, masks were compulsory in the classrooms, but new instructions from the state government meant this could not continue. “Of course, we were concerned after the holidays, when so many people had been away. We have 30 children sitting in a 50-square-metre room, but what can you do?” says Monika Maraun, headmistress of the Paulusschule. “Then I heard about the cough and sneeze guards from item.” And when we heard about the situation in Ms. Maraun’s school, we were happy to provide material for the three classrooms for the year one children.
In these classrooms, the pupils are now always separated from their neighbours by transparent protective panels. These panels are secured in easy-to-install dividers. This radically reduces the risk of a droplet infection, without isolating the children – in fact, as Ms. Maraun indicates, it has had the opposite effect: “This is a great solution, because the children are sitting next to each other and can see one another. They’re not in an enclosure or anything like that, but they can take their masks off and still be protected.” There was no need to rearrange the desks, either, since group tables have been out since the start of the pandemic, anyway. All in all, the children can therefore move around more freely again, and this is aided by another solution – a Partition With Protective Panel in front of the teacher’s desk that ensures pupils can go up to the front to present things they have made, for example, without any concerns. “It’s a great solution,” says Maraun.
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