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How COVID- 19 is physically changing our spaces

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

As restrictions start to ease, will the post lockdown world look very physically different? We explore how spaces are changing to adjust to the new normal.

Photo by Risen Wang on Unsplash

Gyms In Australia, ScoMo announced last week that indoor gyms with up to 20 people can reopen from stage 2. Gyms have been working with health organisations to develop a protocol to safely reopen, including temperature checks on arrival, cleaning of surfaces after every use, disabling every 2nd treadmill or bike, and protective equipment for staff. But with gyms being full of sweaty people in confined spaces, will people feel safe enough to return? A study earlier this year found “drug-resistant bacteria, flu virus and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in four different athletic training facilities.”

In some US states, gyms have started to reopen. Equinox gyms have reopened with a range of new protocols like deep cleaning multiple times a day, reduced hours, and temperature checks on entry. They are also restricting member access, each being allowed 3 x 90min workouts per week which they have to pre-book. Members are also being asked to wear a mask whilst training, wipe equipment before and after use and are recommended to wear gloves.

Crunch gyms in Oklahoma and Georgia have also started to reopen with CEO Jim Rowley announcing changes to group fitness classes - “When you do a group fitness class, you'll be assigned a number, and that number corresponds to a grid in the room, which will all be six feet apart from each other… You'll work out in that grid, and then you'll clean up in that grid as well afterwards.”


Testing make up, shoe fittings and touching dress fabrics are all part of the shopping experience, so how will shopping look moving forward?

Beauty brand Mecca relied on in-store consultations and product trials and has moved these offerings online with complementary virtual beauty, skin, make-up and even fragrance consults. Myer has started reopening some stores and has implemented new hygiene measures, however shoe, suit and intimate apparel fittings have been suspended.

Nike closed stores worldwide temporarily and instead tried to push products through their apps and website. The premium version of Nike Training Club app was made free, giving access to classes and training tips. They also started posting weekly workout videos on their YouTube channel. And in order to drive sales, they shifted exclusive shoe drops to their SNKRS app.

Some may have thought that people would be hesitant to visit shops even after restrictions were lifted, however, since the easing of restrictions in Australia, shopping centres were packed over the weekend. A lot of Westfield shopping centres have reopened, but other than encouraging the 1.5m distancing with signs and PA announcements and closing kids play areas and food court seating, shopping centres in Australia seem to be back to normal operations.

Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash


As some countries resume domestic travel, how will airplanes be adjusted to avoid infections?

Air New Zealand plans to resume some flights as New Zealand eases restrictions. They have developed a video to show the new normal for their flights; every second kiosk will be turned off to encourage social distancing, encouraging checking in online, passengers will board and disembark in zones and on the plane, they will be spaced out by a row on the flights.

Emirates Airlines wanted to avoid any infections on the plane, so instead they tested all passengers departing from Dubai for COVID, with a test that gives results in just 10 mins.

Hong Kong airport introduced mandatory testing for all arrivals, a disinfection booth for staff and a sterilization robot. The booth which is kept at a negative pressure, sprays sanitising spray to disinfect staff working with arrivals. The robot, has ultraviolet light and air sterilizer to disinfect toilets and crucial operating areas.

Sylvia Jahn



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