Social distancing and post lockdown fencing

The battle with COVID-19 is far from over. Although lockdown restrictions have eased across the UK, lockdowns on a local level have already happened, and more are likely. Opinions vary across the board on the practicalities of the easing of social distancing rules; some businesses welcome the easing of the rules whilst others by their very nature may have to continue practicing safe social distancing for the foreseeable future.

Social distancing is an area where fencing could play an important role – and in fact, is already doing so. Retailers and public spaces are using temporary measures and barriers to restrict numbers and control the flow of visitors, but in some cases more permanent measures may need to be employed.

Here we look at some of the sectors impacted by social distancing, and how fencing could have an impact.

Schools

The logistics and practicalities of children returning to school have been widely discussed and debated. It’s here that fencing could provide a range of benefits; creating separate areas for sports, play and learning. This can work at multiple levels, whether fencing is used to prevent different age groups from coming into contact with each other, or to segregate students into smaller learning bubbles. Outdoor classrooms are becoming more popular, and fencing can be used to facilitate this. Timber fencing provides a welcoming aesthetic, with a range of styles and heights available to suit different purposes. Solid panels can create private, enclosed areas, free from distraction, while slatted panels can provide a light and airy space.

Around play areas, it's important to choose fencing that's welcoming and non-intrusive, and allows teachers to supervise at a distance that encourages independent play. Safety should be reflected in the fencing chosen, and fences with anti-trap features, safe fixings, and quality materials are suitable for play areas. Anti-Trap Bow Top Fencing can be polyester powder coated, providing a bright, glossy finish that won't crack or chip, while Playtime® Timber has planed pales to minimise the risk of splinters, and can also be painted to provide a colourful fence.

Sports pitches and MUGAs present additional considerations. Scheduling sports activities can play a role in social distancing by timing usage of facilities to restrict contact between groups, but keeping these areas physically separate also reduces the risk of sports equipment and balls going astray. Sports equipment may also need to be quarantined before being re-used, something that can be facilitated by the installation of lockable storage compounds.

School start times are likely to continue to be staggered in September, which brings its own set of challenges. Automated gates or intercoms could be used to restrict access to the school between drop off or collection times, and separate gates should be designated for entrances and exits.

Theme parks, zoos and public attractions

With social distancing increasing the length of queues and visitor flow becoming pertinent, it’s likely that public attractions will need to implement one-way systems to reduce the frequency of people crossing paths.

There may be a need to dynamically adjust the flows of people at any given time – an attraction or exhibit may see a surge in popularity or conversely, may need to be closed. Pedestrian guardrails are a good choice for these situations; an inexpensive form of fencing that can help to stagger or separate queues. In areas where taller fencing may be necessary to stop queue jumping, Sentry® fencing has a similar appearance, and can provide a robust and attractive solution in heights of up to 3m.

Doctors’ surgeries and medical centres

With an awareness of the importance of infection control, surgeries are already putting distancing measures in place. In many cases, on-site appointments are only made when absolutely necessary. Bollards can be used to mark distances in queues, and temporary mesh fencing may be an option if those queues extend outside of the building.

Swimming pools and gyms

Amongst the last of facilities to reopen, there is the additional aspect of providing and potentially increasing security measures to protect against break-ins. As well as the risk of the theft of valuable equipment, there is also the danger of vandalism. Barbican® security fencing is an anti-climb option that is secure as well as attractive.

It is also a good option for swimming pools, where potentially deep water presents a serious risk to intruders. Outdoor pools in particular require extra degrees of vigilance, and anti-climb fencing is a must, particularly if a lifeguard is not present.

Access control

One of the primary challenges in social distancing is controlling and keeping a track of the number of customers and employees who enter the premises. Venues who rely on ticketing will already have measures and restrictions in place that they can adapt, but other venues will need to adopt new approaches.

Gates are a good measure, but they will not be practical in every instance. Traffic arm barriers may prove more practical and offer more flexibility over where they could be installed, in turn providing a cost-effective solution. The installation of temporary fencing, bollards and other measures is beneficial to staff as well as customers – they help to remind everybody to maintain a safe distance, and help employees to feel safe in their working environment.

The sheer variety of situations and options can seem daunting at first, but Jacksons Fencing has years of experience in providing every type of fencing and boundary solutions for every situation. Contact us today and find out how we can help.

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