Refill Safely with Our Covid-19 Checklist
Refilling Safely Isn't as Hard as You Think.
The science is out and thankfully we now know that refilling reusable water bottles and cups is perfectly safe during Covid-19. According to a statement released by over 100 scientists single-use plastics have no clear safety advantage over reusables as long as the reusables are washed and cleaned properly. This is great news because it means that Refill Station Staff, and Tap Map users can continue to safely refill their water bottles as long as standard government food and safety advice is followed.
Refill Station Checklist:
Due to recent restrictions and lockdowns, a number of water systems may have experienced reduced use or experienced stagnation. Upon reopening, refill stations should consult Water Ireland’s Guide on how to recover drinking water supplies in buildings and networks after a prolonged period of inactivity. This guide will provide instructions on how to safely restore these systems and is necessary for anyone participating in our Tap Map! We also require that refill stations abide by local and national Covid guidelines including those laid out by the Food Authority of Ireland.
When refilling water bottles the following steps should be taken to minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19. As long as these procedures and other recommended guidelines are followed then it is perfectly safe for businesses to keep offering free drinking water and supporting the fight against plastic waste!
- Avoid unnecessary contact
- Use physical screens and barriers whenever possible
- Keep spaces clean and use recommended sanitization procedures
- Provide clear guidance to the public on social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
How To Refill Safely:
Option 1 – Set Up a Contactless Refill Station:
- Create an area on the counter where customers can place their water bottles to be refilled.
- Instruct customers to remove the lid from their water bottle so that your staff is able to refill it without ever touching the bottle.
- Once the customer backs up to a safe distance, the staff member can safely step forward, refill the water bottle, and then step back to a safe distance.
- Finally, the customer can retrieve their water bottle and exit the business before placing the lid back on.
Option 2 – Use a Safety Barrier
- Instruct customers to remove the lid from their resuable water bottles and place them on a tray on the counter.
- The staff member can then proceed to pick up the plastic bottle using a blue roll or tissue (no plastic please!) and fill it.
- Once the bottle is refilled the staff member will return the water on the counter and dispose of the blue roll or tissue.
- Finally, the customer can pick up the bottle, replace the lid, and wash their hands for 20 seconds as an extra safety measure.
- Refill stations should be clearly marked.
- We recommend only using close containers with lids to serve water as this decreases risk of possible cross contamination through respiration.
- Advice customers to wash hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer before and after handling any of the equipment at the refill station.
- Advice customers to avoid touching the top of bottles and provide tissues for customers to use when handling the bottles or taps (optional).
- Staff and guests should wear a face mask whenever handling the refill containers to avoid potential contamination due to respiration.
- Enforce proper social distancing guidelines while guests are refilling water or waiting in the que.
- Maintain water fountains according to recommended guidelines.
- Provide hand sanitizer or instruct users to wash hands thoroughly before handling the water fountain.
- Instruct users to be mindful of sneezing and coughing when near the water refill station.
- Advice refill station users to use elbow, back of hand, or knee to operate the fountain when possible. This further reduces the risk of potential contamination.
- Advice users to let the water flow for at least 10 seconds before proceeding to refill their water bottles.
- Instruct users to avoid touching the waterspout or nozzle with their hand or water bottle.
- Clean and maintain the water fountain or tap regularly following recommended sanitation standards and guidelines.
Additional Covid Safety Resources:
- Contactless Coffee guidance for safely accepting reusables
- Refill’s standard water and hygiene guidance developed with the UK water companies
- UK Government guidance covering restaurants offering takeaways/deliveries
- UK government guidance covering shops and business that can open to the public
- Food Standards Agency checklist for re-opening
- Food Standards Agency guidance on personal hygiene
- Current Government guidance on reusables
- City to Sea’s Refill Station Guide
- Welsh Government guidance covering shops and businesses that can open to the public.