Here in my hometown of Playa del Carmen, Coronavirus is not spreading at the same rate it is in other cities. It seems to be transmitted at a much lower rate than other regions, even with a similar climate and protocols. I believe, and current recommendations and research seems to support this, that it is due to the amount of time we spend out in open air.
Restaurants, cafes and many shops in Playa del Carmen are not in enclosed, air conditioned spaces, but in open air. Yes, does mean we often get uncomfortably hot during the humid summer months; and when it rains, we all need to readjust our seating in restaurants and cafes, but it does mean we are not breathing recycled air.
The level of pollutants in indoor air are often 2-5 times higher than in the air we breathe outside and the CDC also states that indoors is more risky than outdoors, where space might be limited and there’s less ventilation. In addition to this an Indian-German research team recently concluded that Coronavirus spreads more indoors and at low humidity. A relative humidity of 40 to 60 percent could reduce the spread of the viruses and their absorption.
Therefore, as an industry, how can we utilize more outdoor space and control humidity levels to ensure we offer safe spa experiences as we reopen our facilities across Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America?
1. If possible, offer treatments in open air. Perhaps on the beach, poolside, on a balcony, terrace, rooftop, courtyard or garden area. As long as you have privacy, a quiet atmosphere and shade to protect from sun exposure, these options could be viable.
2. Open windows and doors to the treatment room – try to allow the maximum exchange of indoor air with outside air.
3. Consider the use of air filtration systems and air purifiers to reduce any airborne contaminants including viruses.
4. Ensure air conditioning units or installations are well maintained and clean, with filters replaced as needed. Be sure not to dehumidify the air below 40% relative humidity, invest in hygrometers for each space to monitor the humidity level.
5. In dry environments, consider the use of humidifiers to ensure optimum humidity levels are achieved. A low cost alternative to this may be to place bowls of warm water around the space, add petals or flowers to make them into a decorative feature and place them on countertops and below the treatment bed facerest. Add some essential oil for improved ambience and health benefits!
6. Use fans or in room ventilation to direct the air away from the therapist and the client, towards any point of air exchange, like a window or open door.
By Sara Jones, Editor