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Keeping safe through the pandemic

Keeping safe through the pandemic: Mark Tomlinson, Head of Environmental Stadia Projects, for Bio Circle, provides a specialist’s view on what is required to ensure that stadia are clean and safe to operate.

What is a virus? Have we ever stopped to think about it? SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has changed the world for everyone, including our industry, with dramatic effects.

Keeping safe through the pandemic

Keeping safe through the pandemic

The return to a “New Normal” has begun, with sport slowly seeing players and athletes return to training and facilities opening up to host various football matches and test cricket returning.

But what is next? When will fans return? Who is responsible for the assurance of safety and a COVID-free stadium? Is there a single answer?

The actual size of a COVID-19 cell is 100 nanometres. If you blew it up to the size of a common flea (1.5mm) it would be 15,000 times bigger.

We have all become experts in viral control, or have we? The Government directive was to wash your hands with soap and water following guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control. But do we know why? Why have huge manufacturers flooded the market with a treasure trove of different chemicals? “Let’s blast the virus to pieces,” one shop assistant told me.

An ex-colleague of mine proclaimed with great joy he was selling alcohol-based hand gels for an over inflated price and making “loads of money”. But stop for a minute! This express train of products and advice has just confused the market and, more importantly, our industry.

To be honest I would not know how to maintain a football pitch, a test wicket, or a golf course – that is for the experts. My experience of 32 years is environmental chemistry, surface technology. That’s understanding viral activity on a surface. If I want advice on an area of technology, I ask the experts.

Karren Brady, vice chairman of West Ham and Apprentice star, came out with a statement in May: “How do we clean goals posts, corner flags, pitches and make them viral free”?

I was kicking and screaming at this stage because I had the answer.

“The safe and environmental way, that’s how you do it, Karren!”

I have encouraged clubs to simplify the process of viral protection. What are you trying to achieve? Have you been worried about bacteria or viral control on surfaces before COVID-19?

When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your stadium seats?

Keeping safe through the pandemic

Keeping safe through the pandemic

What has shocked me is the lack of guidance or slow response from the No disrespect to Head Groundsmen and grounds teams, but I have found the vast majority of you have enough on your plate just maintaining stadium and training facilities – let alone becoming viral experts to ensure multimillion pound athletes don’t catch COVID-19 from surface contamination! That’s my job.

How do we simplify the understanding and process of keeping surfaces hygienically clean from COVID-19? The best way to describe the situation is: If you go to the doctors and you have a viral condition you get sent away and told to rest and take paracetamol, but if you went to the doctors with a bacterial infection he will give you the antibiotics to “blast” the bacteria away.

COVID -19 is an envelope virus. We do not need to “blast” it to pieces. We do not need strong chemicals with fancy titles, sold by inexperienced salesman who know very little about viral control.

Think again and rewind. Soap and water why? Answer – to degrease the virus! The outer shell of the virus consists of a fatty membrane in which viral glycoproteins are embedded. These glycoproteins have a crown-like structure and they bind the virus to the surfaces. The virus is also protected by this fat layer.

Our environmental product VIRAL CLEANER 100 works by dissolving and destroying the fatty membranes surrounding and protecting the virus, in order to make the virus inactive, but at the same time protecting the surface being treated. Using V100 means there is no need for high powered disinfectants or alcohol-based solutions which are highly flammable and contain high levels of VOCs.

Viral Cleaner 100 (V100) is turf and plant safe, non haz chem, non-flammable, non-VOCs and environmentally sustainable. But deals with our issue – an Envelope Virus such as SARS-CoV-2.

I am proud to be involved in the guidance of making our industry safer, The FA sites, WFA, Formula 1, Championship, EFL 1 & 2, Non-League, Devonshire Park, Legoland, schools, have all adopted to simplify their processes with V100. A single spray application of V100 with a dwell time of 60 seconds ensures surface cleanliness.

Once fans return to stadiums, how will the process of hygienically clean seats change? We at Bio Circle Surface Technology can help. But remember Karren Brady’s words “How do we make goals post, corner flags etc COVID-19 free.” My advice is to simplify the process and look at the environmental option.

Bio Circle Surface Technology are present in 64 countries worldwide. The UK operation is based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Mark Tomlinson can be contacting on 07712 426122/ mark.tomlinson@bio-circle.co.uk