Our story to virus protection shields

Virus Shields - Helping to protect staff and customers 

Supermarkets and other essential businesses across New Zealand are taking super precautionary measures to protect both their staff and customers from potentially infecting each other with the novel coronavirus, during this unprecedented time of a nationwide lockdown. As the weeks have ticked by, there has been much anticipation of when businesses that are currently shut will gain more freedom to operate, and what measures they must comply with in order to do so.

On Thursday 16th April, after three weeks of a full-blown countrywide lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed a clearer picture of what life would look like once we eventually move to a Level Three Alert, explaining that;

 Alert Level 3 will see many significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements retained, but will permit aspects of the economy to reopen in a safe way that will allow the economic recovery to begin.”

In simple terms, this means that all businesses that are able to function safely with minimal physical and face-to-face contact, and put extreme hygiene methods in place, would be allowed to open up. 

Right from the beginning of this pandemic, however, the biggest question that all businesses (particularly those deemed ‘essential’) faced was how to actually go about safely interacting with customers as they moved through stores and eventually paid for their goods. 

Although, for example, every supermarket is restricting the number of people allowed inside at once, shortening business hours, taping crosses and lines on the floor to help customers understand where they can and cannot stand, and providing hand sanitiser and wipes for trolley handles, the use of acrylic shields around the counters and tills has been a welcomed addition and solution. 

Acrylic shields are one of the most effective ways to stop droplets from spreading the virus through accidental sneezes and coughs, as well as general conversation.

As soon as the idea for the shields came to pass in New Zealand, the demand for manufacturers soared. Now, with Level Three appearing to be in closer range than it was three weeks ago, there is no doubt there will be an increasing need for screens in every store and operational business as New Zealanders make the shift.

BoardAtHome, Hamilton manufacturers of work-from-home furniture and commercial safety screens, were honoured to play a role in helping protect the public during this nationwide crisis. Right now, they are actively making acrylic screens to help medical and essential retail point-of-sale counters. 

The idea to jump on board with this came about from a conversation between Keith (from Cutshop Waikato) and his wife Louise. Louise works in a pharmacy, and expressed how she felt exposed to germs across the counter. Quite rightly, she didn’t want to potentially be part of community transmission, and so wanted to know if there was anything Keith could do to help protect her and her colleagues. This is where the first screen was produced, and was very well received.  One of her colleagues commented:

‘Having only worked in pharmacy for 6 months, I am very conscious of being susceptible to the many germs that are around! So when covid 19 came down, I quickly started wearing a mask and stepping back from the counter but still felt exposed. What if someone coughed or sneezed, there was nothing to prevent that from reaching me! I am extremely relieved we now have a wonderful acrylic protection shield from Board At Home,’ she says.

After providing their very first screen to that pharmacy, Keith put the idea to market over the internet to see if there were other essential workplaces currently without that extra layer of protection, who wanted it. There was a large response from all kinds of essential businesses which has created an ongoing project for Keith. The screens being made in New Zealand is a big benefit for the economy and an assurance booster for Kiwis - knowing that their products are not sourced/shipped in from overseas.

Work-wise, Keith’s morale is high on this venture;

‘It feels absolutely awesome to be able to provide help to businesses, giving them an extra layer of protection as they navigate this time of uncertainty,’’ he says.

 

 

Donna from Cooks Beach General Store is very pleased with her screen, too, gratefully telling Keith she feels ‘so much safer at work now’.

 

When it comes to logistics, every measure has been taken to ensure compliance with the utmost health and safety standard. The delivery is contactless, and each shield has a film layer. For ease of use, they are super easy to install, and feature a transaction gap for eftpos payments (175/300mm high with various widths). As mentioned, they are made from acrylic/perspex (with 6mm or 8mm options to choose from), and stand 1000mm high to protect from sneezes and coughs. As all workplace counters are different, they are customisable to suit your counter (options from 500mm to 1000mm).