Due to COVID-19, this year has seen some dramatic changes to many businesses. Initially thought of as temporary measures, social distancing has become the new normal. Social distancing and hygiene products have been implemented across retail, hospitality, health and beauty and offices across the UK. And while the benefit of wearing different face masks has been debated, one of the essential products in the fight against the pandemic is the sneeze guard.
What is a sneeze guard?
Government guidelines state that where 2m social distancing is not possible we should “use screens between people to create a physical barrier”. Sneeze guards or sneeze screens do just that without hindering communication or interactions between staff and customers.
Typically sneeze guards are made from clear plastic or Perspex. They should be placed in areas where there is likely to be close or prolonged contact between people, including:
- At till points and kiosks
- At reception desks
- Between office desks
- Between tables in cafés, restaurants, and pubs
- To separate beauticians from their clients
- In hotel foyers
- In gyms and other leisure facilities
- Between machinery or equipment in workplaces
As different situations require different levels of protection; you will find a range of sizes and designs to fit your business needs. These vary from smaller countertop sneeze guards for till points and desks, to large sneeze guards to divide spaces such as seating areas or salon chairs. We’ve outlined the key designs and features below:
Countertop sneeze guards
Counter sneeze guards are most popular in customer-facing environments and offices. These acrylic screens are lightweight, making them easily removable and portable. To reposition your sneeze guards as and when you need to, opt for a design with feet. For a more permanent option, choose a sneeze guard with table clamps to ensure it stays in place.
Countertop sneeze guards are available both with and without windows to suit different purposes. Sneeze guards with windows are ideal for passing money and documents at customer service desks and kiosks.
Freestanding sneeze screens
Freestanding sneeze screens typically offer full height protection of over 6ft. While freestanding sneeze screens can be more expensive than countertop designs, sturdy feet or wheels ensure they’re removable and versatile. They’re ideal for dividing seating areas or protecting customers waiting in queues. For additional protection, use multiple screens to create zones or areas in your business, such as separating equipment in gyms and other leisure facilities.
Are sneeze guards required?
Although we should avoid face to face contact, where this isn’t possible and where people remain close, sneeze guards minimise the risk of infection. Scientific research has shown that a cough or sneeze can travel between 50 and 100mph, expelling up to 100,000 droplets. This shocking statistic shows the real risk when exposed to just one cough or sneeze. Other social distancing and hygiene measures, including hand sanitiser dispenser stands and floor sticker signs, are still crucial. However, sneeze guards significantly reduce the risk of spreading the virus between staff and customers during those unavoidable moments where social distancing isn’t possible.