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Planning Guidance for Reopening Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, & Schools

Table of Contents


The Importance of Risk Assessment

Modified Hierarchy of Controls

Assessing Risks for Organizations and Specific Settings

Nonessential Businesses

Schools and Childcare Facilities

Outdoor Spaces

Community Gathering Spaces


Mass Gatherings

Interpersonal Gatherings

Develop Your Plan

Implement Your Plan

Maintain and Revise Your Plan

Appendix A – Reopening Decision Trees For:

  • Youth Programs & Camps
  • Child Care Programs
  • Faith Communities
  • Mass Transit
  • Restaurants and Bars
  • Schools
  • Workplaces

Planning Guidance for Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Reopening Operations

This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business or run a school. Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Reopening the country also strongly relies on public health strategies, including increased testing of people for the virus, social distancing, isolation, and keeping track of how someone infected might have infected other people. This plan is part of the larger United States Government plan and focuses on cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and can also be applied to your home.

Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces including your workplace, school, and business will require you to:

  • Develop your plan
  • Implement your plan
  • Maintain and revise your plan

Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public spaces that will require careful planning. Every American has been called upon to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing and prevention hygiene, such as frequently washing your hands and wearing face coverings. Everyone also has a role in making sure our communities are as safe as possible to reopen and remain open.

The EPA has compiled a list of disinfectant products that can be used against COVID-19, including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes. Each product has been shown to be effective against viruses that are harder to kill than viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.


This document provides a general framework for cleaning and disinfection practices. The framework is based on doing the following:

  1. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure.
  2. Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 can also help reduce the risk. Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important.
  3. When EPA-approved disinfectants are not available, alternative disinfectants can be used (for example, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions). Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together–this can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.

Links to specific recommendations for many public spaces that use this framework, can be found at the end of this document. It’s important to continue to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance for reopening America.

A Few Important Reminders about Coronaviruses and Reducing the Risk of Exposure:

  • Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight will reduce the time the virus survives on surfaces and objects.
  • Normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection.
  • Disinfectants kill germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, you can further lower the risk of spreading infection. EPA-approved disinfectants are an important part of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. If disinfectants on this list are in short supply, alternative disinfectants can be used (for example, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions).
  • Store and use disinfectants in a responsible and appropriate manner according to the label. Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together–this can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.
  • Do not overuse or stockpile disinfectants or other supplies. This can result in shortages of appropriate products for others to use in critical situations.
  • Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used when you are cleaning and disinfecting. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed based on setting and product. For more information, see CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.
  • Practice social distancing, wear facial coverings, and follow proper prevention hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and using alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

The Importance Of Risk Assessment

Risk assessments should be integrated into the decisions around reopening. Risk assessments are formalized processes to evaluate risks and hazards. Assessing the risks of easing social distancing measures and restarting parts of the economy requires a measurement of the likelihood of increased transmission and the consequences of that transmission. Likelihood in this case means the probability that reopening a business, school, or other organization where people congregate will cause significantly increased transmission. Consequence is the impact that increased transmission could have on individuals or communities if a business, school, or other organization reopens or eases social distancing measures.

In addition, there are mitigation measures that can decrease both the likelihood and consequences of transmission. Although enumeration of those mitigation measures for every type of business is beyond the scope of this report, we briefly describe principles of risk reduction through the hierarchy of controls later in this section. Where possible, we have also linked to a selection of existing guidance throughout the document.

The risks of increased transmission of COVID-19 are balanced against risks to the health and well-being of the public, society, and the economy from measures taken to reduce the spread of the disease. The likelihood and consequence of harms across a range of factors, including but not limited to increased disease transmission, other health impacts, threats to livelihoods, and consequences to regional economies, should be considered together.


There are still many gaps in scientific understanding about the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2. In studies that have monitored people with a known exposure to a confirmed case, household members, those who report frequent contact, and people who have traveled together or shared a meal are found to be at highest risk of infection. Other studies that attempt to reconstruct transmission chains among confirmed cases have also found that prolonged close contact is the source of most new infections. Some special settings have also been identified. Superspreading events have been linked to religious services, choir practice, and large family gatherings, among others. Congregate settings like cruise ships, institutions of incarceration, and long-term care facilities have also been the source of large outbreaks. These findings suggest that settings where close contact is minimal will be lower risk than settings with prolonged close contact.


However, it is important to note that low risk does not mean no risk. Any place where people come together or have contact with shared surfaces could in theory be a transmission opportunity. Exact quantification of the risks of various activities is not possible, so we present here qualitative assessments using expert elicitation and published data as of the date of this report.


The primary consequence is the risk of increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which could precipitate community spread. Businesses or activities that bring people together in densely populated spaces, those that have employees or customers that travel further and disperse more widely, and those that either employ or have a large number of customers with COVID-19 risk factors, like underlying medical conditions, may create greater personal and societal consequences if they ignite a chain of transmission by reopening.


Mitigation measures are those actions to reduce the negative impacts of situations carrying increased risk through minimizing the severity or scope of impact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published extensive guidance on implementation of mitigation measures across multiple levels of society, including individuals, schools, workplaces, faith-based organizations, and congregate living spaces.

Even if a business or organization is deemed to be high risk because of likelihood or consequences of increased transmission, it is possible to reduce that risk with targeted mitigation steps. However, it should be noted that no mitigation step will reduce the risk completely, and even with multiple mitigation steps in place, some businesses or organizations may be at too high a risk to open until the pandemic is over.


Hierarchy of controls is a concept used by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as a framework for identifying controls for potentially harmful workplace hazards. These principles are useful for assessing the effectiveness of controls for COVID-19 and for understanding the range of impacts those measures can have on decreasing the likelihood of transmission. The NIOSH hierarchy of controls structure is adapted below for COVID-19 purposes.

Modified Hierarchy of Controls

While all the controls below are known to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and research on these controls is still ongoing, it is known that transmission of the virus occurs most frequently at close contact, therefore the MOST effective method of mitigation is to maintain strict physical distance.  PPE alone is less effective when physical distancing is not practiced, but PPE is still recommended as a mitigation technique.

Using the modified hierarchy of controls, COVID-19 mitigation measures can look like:

  • Physical Distancing — wherever possible having people work or access the business from home; this should include restructuring responsibilities to minimize the numbers of workers that need to be physically present.
  • Engineering controls — creating physical barriers between people
  • Administrative controls — redistributing responsibilities to reduce contact between individuals, using technology to facilitate communication
  • PPE — having people wear nonmedical cloth masks

Regardless of business specific considerations, there are measures that can be taken to mitigate the risk of infection to protect individuals:

  1. Use of nonmedical cloth masks
  2. Incorporating engineering controls such as physical barriers where possible
  3. Reconfiguring space to enable people to be located apart (ideally, at least 6 feet)

Supporting and enabling employees to continue working from home (if possible) or remain at home if they are unwell, have been in close contact with someone who is sick, or are in a high risk category.

Assessing Risk for Organizations  and Specific Settings

This section provides high-level risk assessments for the following 7 categories:

(1) “nonessential” businesses

(2) schools and childcare facilities

(3) outdoor spaces

(4) community gathering spaces

(5) transportation

(6) mass gatherings

(7) interpersonal gatherings.


Each of these categories was assessed along 3 dimensions: contact intensity, number of contacts, and the degree to which the activities are considered to be modifiable (through mitigation measures such as enabling people to remain 6 feet apart) to reduce risk. We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert judgment. Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Unfortunately, states will need to make decisions about re-initiating some business activities before there are validated data to know the levels of risk we are assuming in reducing social distancing in various settings.

For purposes of this document, contact intensity was rated as either low, medium, or high. We define contact intensity as a function of contact type (ranging from close to distant) and duration (ranging from brief to prolonged). Low contact intensity activities are interactions that are brief and fairly distant, like walking past someone in a shop. High contact intensity activities involve prolonged close contact, like sharing a dormitory. Medium contact intensity activities fall between these 2 poles, like sharing a meal in seats that are separated by several feet. Of course, inside 1 business environment, there may be physical spaces and/or activities that range from low to medium to high, and that should be taken into account during the decision-making process. Risk to employees who may have different exposures should also be considered.

We also assess the number of contacts as either low, medium, or high. We define the number of contacts as the approximate number of people in the setting at the same time, on average. A higher number of contacts is presumed to be riskier.

Modification potential (the degree to which mitigation measures can buy down those risks) is a qualitative assessment of the degree to which activities can be modified to reduce risk. The engineering controls framework was used to inform the risk assessments; sectors and businesses that could effectively incorporate physical distancing and engineering controls were considered to have a higher modification potential than those relying on administrative controls or personal protective equipment. Links to a selection of existing guidance on what those mitigation steps could include are also provided.

These risk assessments are primarily oriented around customers, attendees, and members of the public, who would make up the majority of people interacting with a business or other noted setting in this report. However, we acknowledge that risk to employees will likely be greater in many of these organizations and settings, as their duration of exposure and number of interactions will be higher. Special precautions should be taken to protect employees, potentially including restructuring duties to minimize person-to-person contact, changing work flows or operations to diminish risk, providing personal protective equipment for employees (if sufficient supplies make it feasible to do so outside the healthcare system), and providing enhanced sanitation and hygiene supplies (eg, disinfecting products and alcohol-based hand sanitizer).‡

Included in the next section are high-level risk assessments for various sectors. They are not listed in any particular order, and the list is not fully comprehensive. Governors and their teams may want to modify these risk assessments according to local considerations. In the final section, there are proposed principles for incorporating these determinations into policy decisions. Those, too, should be modified to reflect local context.

“Nonessential” Businesses

Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Restaurants Medium Medium Medium National Restaurant Association, FDA
Bars High High Medium FDA
Salon, spas, and other personal care industries Medium/High Low Medium TN Cosmetology & Barber Guidelines
Retailers Low Medium Medium NY state guidance, OSHA
Shopping Malls Low Medium Medium NC state guidance, OSHA
Gyms/Fitness Studios Medium Medium Medium CDC Small Business guidance
Theaters, museums, and other indoor leisure spaces Medium High Medium CA entertainment venue guidance, Americans for the Arts,

American Alliance of Museums

Outdoor large venues (concerts, sports) High High Medium CDC Mass Gathering guidance
Indoor large venues (concerts, sports) High High Low CDC Mass Gathering guidance

Schools and Childcare Facilities

Schools and childcare facilities play many important roles in communities. Schools provide necessary education to prepare children for adulthood. Online education from K-12 is not a substitute for in-person learning and socialization in a school setting. Long-term shutdowns will likely lead to education gaps and other consequences for many children. In addition to the critical function of educating children, schools and childcare facilities also enable parents to work outside the home. They also serve as key resources in that they offer meals, safe environments, and other services, particularly to vulnerable families.

Unlike businesses and sectors that primarily serve adults, the consequences of increased transmission are potentially different for settings and activities that primarily serve kids. Children are less vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 than adults. A recent report found that fewer than 2% of cases of COVID-19 in the United States were diagnosed in children, and of those (for whom data were available), between 5.7% and 20% required hospitalization. Most children requiring hospitalization were under 1 year of age. These considerations favor the reopening of schools and childcare facilities.

However, it is still not known what role children play in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. For other viral illnesses, like influenza, children are drivers of transmission. Early and prolonged school closures have been shown to reduce overall community transmission of influenza. There has been some evidence that COVID-19 produces more mild illness in children and therefore it may be less likely to be detected than in adults. However, without more conclusive evidence, it is difficult to quantify the role of children in propagating COVID-19 to other students, their family members, teachers, and school staff. Furthermore, schools and childcare facilities are staffed by adults, some of whom may be at risk of severe illness. These considerations weigh against reopening.

Some students are likely to have underlying medical conditions that will prevent them from returning to school safely. Other students who are healthy without underlying conditions may have parents who believe it is unsafe for their children to return to school, either because of concerns about the health of the student or the possibility of bringing infection back to the household and infecting adults. If schools are reopened, decisions will need to be made regarding whether tele-education will need to be provided to those students who do not come back to school, alongside in-person education being provided in school.

In order to better understand the role of children in transmission, studies reconstructing transmission chains are needed, as are studies seeking to correlate viral load to infectiousness.

Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Childcare facilities (daycare, preschools)
High Medium/High Low/Medium CDC, WHO
Schools (elementary, middle, and high) High High Low CDC, WHO
Contact School Sports High Medium/High Low NCAA, CDC
Noncontact school sports Low Medium High NCAA, CDC
Summer Camps High High Low American Camp Association, Association of Camp Nursing
Institutions of higher education High High High CDC, American College Health Association
Residence halls and other overnight programs High Medium Low NYC guidance for congregate settings and residential buildings

Outdoor Spaces

COVID-19 transmission is more likely in enclosed spaces than outdoor spaces, based on current epidemiologic understanding. Indoor spaces may have poor ventilation, which may lead to viral particles persisting in the air or recirculating longer than they would outdoors or in enclosed spaces with good ventilation. People also tend to be closer together indoors, and there are more high-touch surfaces that can serve as fomites of disease transmission. Therefore, there is lower risk of disease transmission outdoors than indoors, especially if distance is maintained between individuals while outdoors.


Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Parks, walking paths/ trails, dog parks
Low Low Low Guidance from MD, Guidance from RI, Guidance from Los Angeles, CA
Athletic fields and other outdoor congregate settings Medium Medium Low Guidance from the National Mall Trust in Washington, DC
Pools Medium Low High CDC, Guidance from WA
Beaches/Piers Low High Medium Guidance from Orange Beach, AL, Guidance from RI
Playgrounds, skateparks, and other outdoor recreation spaces Medium Medium Medium Guidance from MD, Guidance from Santa Cruz, CA

Checklist for Reopening Pools

Your pool and aquatic facilities have been closed for a prolonged time, what steps should we take to open them back up again….

It’s been a while since you have used your indoor and/or outdoor aquatic facilities and now is the time you want to get them ready to go again so what should we do. You can not expect to start the facility up again right away and it may take several days or a week depending upon your procedures, but let’s lay out what should be done.   Hopefully your facility CPO is checking the pool daily while the facility was closed so getting re-started should not be as difficult.

Things to tackle as you start getting your facility aquatic operations back in order:

  • Check the pool chemistry. If your local/state code allowed you to reduce the ppm of chemicals in the pool water while the pool was unoccupied it now needs to be brought back up to typically maintained functioning levels.
  • Check the pool chemicals that were in storage to make certain that they are still usable. These chemicals in your storage area may have gotten contaminated during the closure of your operations and may not be as effective. If in doubt dispose of them properly.
  • Wash and disinfect the pool deck. This should include all areas of the pool deck including the showers in the locker rooms were members shower before entering the pool.
  • Make sure all lights are working on the pool deck to the appropriate lumens. Check with your local/state building codes to make certain that you meet the minimum requirements.
  • Check VGB drain covers to make certain that attached and functioning properly.
  • Check all safety equipment and that it is in usable condition. This would include things such as: lifeguard chairs, rescue tubes, first aid kit, AED (Make sure pads and batteries are in working condition), backboard, oxygen, etc.
  • Check the emergency button or phone system to make certain it is in working condition.
  • Check filtration systems to make certain that they are working.
  • Work with your local health department and follow their guidelines regarding inspections prior to opening to the public.

One of the most important things to do prior to opening is to re-orient your lifeguards to your operations. They have been pre-occupied with other things while the facility was closed and may have forgotten protocols and procedures of the facility. Prior to them being assigned any shift undergo a re-orientation as if they were new to the facility. This re-orientation should be checked off the same way any in-service training is completed, and they should pass a competency test both verbal and written to make sure they are comfortable with the location of equipment and protocols. Finally, it is suggested all actions are documented.

Community Gathering Spaces

Community spaces provide important societal benefits and can range from civic centers to places of worship. The risk in these spaces is highly dependent on the size of the population they serve and the size of the space.


Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Places of Worship High High Medium
CDC, FAQ for Faith Leaders from NYC, Guidance from NY state, Risk Assessment from WHO, Decision Tree from WHO
Libraries Low Low Medium CDC, Guidance from Baltimore County Library
Community Centers Medium High Medium CDC, Guidance from PA, Guidance from Riverside University Health System, Guidance from IL



Transit is very important for keeping communities functioning, and limiting mass transit availability disproportionately affects under-resourced populations. Transit should be opened with careful mitigation measures, given that public transportation is a fairly high-risk setting.


Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Buses High High Medium
CDC, NY state guidance for public transportation
Metros/Rail High High Medium CDC Transit Stations, CDC Transit Workers
Rideshare/Taxis High Low Low Washington State Guidance for Rideshare/Taxis, Toronto Guidance


Mass Gatherings

According to the World Health Organization, an event is defined as a mass gathering “if the number of people it brings together is so large that it has the potential to strain the planning and response resources of the health system in the community where it takes place.” The size of an event that can be considered a mass gathering may depend on the national and local healthcare capacity and the context. For example, if other strains are placed on the health system at the same time, such as an ongoing outbreak, the threshold of the health system would be considerably lower, and, therefore, the size of the event could be considerably smaller and still be defined as a mass gathering.

 Mass gatherings have often been the source of infectious disease outbreaks that spread globally or have contributed to the international spread of disease. While a number of public health measures can be implemented in the planning and operational phases of a mass gathering to significantly reduce the risk of disease spread, during the current pandemic, the high risk for COVID-19 transmission that mass gatherings pose should be recognized. This high risk of transmission is due to a number of factors, including the high density of individuals often in attendance in confined spaces during mass gatherings, the possibility of further domestic or international spread, and the new formation of clusters as people often travel significant distances to attend a mass gathering.

Mass gathering organizers must comply with national and local guidelines and restrictions. At the current stage in the pandemic, while the White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Individual states have varied in the size of gatherings they are banning. As these restrictions lift and organizers begin hosting large events, they should conduct a COVID-19–specific risk assessment to determine the level of risk of transmission the event may pose and identify areas for modification that could reduce or mitigate these risks. The WHO, among others, provides risk assessment and mitigation tools for mass gathering organizers, along with several technical guidance documents.



Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Sports related mass gatherings: games, tournaments, championships
High High Medium WHO guidance for mass gatherings-Sports Addendum, WHO mass gatherings risk assessment – sports addendum, WHO Interim guidance for all mass gatherings, WHO generic mass gathering decision tree, CDC guidance
Sports related mass gatherings: training High (Sport Dependent) Medium Medium WHO Interim guidance for mass gatherings- Sports Addendum, WHO generic mass gatherings risk assessment – sports addendum, WHO Interim guidance for all mass gatherings, WHO generic mass gathering decision tree, CDC guidance
Religious related mass gatherings: large celebrations, festivals, pilgrimages High High Medium CDC, FAQ for Faith Leaders from NYC, Guidance from NY state, Risk Assessment from WHO, Decision Tree from WHO, WHO considerations for religious mass gatherings
Business-related mass gatherings: trade shows, conferences, conventions, workshops, retreats High High High WHO Interim guidance for mass gatherings, WHO generic mass gatherings risk assessment, WHO generic mass gathering decision tree, CDC guidance
Entertainment-related mass gatherings: large concerts, festivals, carnivals, conventions, shows High High Medium WHO Interim guidance for mass gatherings, WHO generic mass gatherings risk assessment, WHO generic mass gathering decision tree, CDC guidance
Politically related mass gatherings: election rallies, polling centers, parades, speeches/ addresses High High Medium WHO Interim guidance for mass gatherings, WHO generic mass gatherings risk assessment, WHO generic mass gathering decision tree, CDC guidance


Interpersonal Gatherings

Interpersonal gatherings among family and friends, including events such as weddings, birthday parties, and funerals, hold great personal and societal value. Attending these events, however, also holds the risk of disease transmission. An epidemiologic assessment of a large, multifamily cluster of COVID-19 cases found that transmission of the virus likely resulted from attendance at a funeral and birthday party. Factors including interacting closely together in enclosed spaces, hugging or kissing, and sharing food or utensils are all practices that are often common at interpersonal gatherings and can increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Certain cultural practices in funerals that promote physical contact with a deceased individual, when that deceased person was infected with SARS-CoV-2, should also be avoided. Careful consideration should be given to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented to reduce the risk of spread, where possible, while still respecting the cultural value of important events. In particular, the CDC recommends that organizers should consider the number and density of attendees, the prevalence of people who could be at high risk of severe illness due to underlying factors, the level of local community disease transmission, and the ability to reduce the number of attendees where possible.


Category Contact Intensity Number of Contacts Modification Potential Mitigation Resources
Small social gatherings (eg, birthday parties)
High Medium High CDC guidance


Large social gatherings (weddings, funerals with many attendees) High High High CDC guidance,

National Funeral Directors Association guidance


Develop your Plan

Evaluate your workplace, school, or business to determine what kinds of surfaces and materials make up that area. Most surfaces and objects will just need normal routine cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and doorknobs will need to be cleaned and then disinfected to further reduce the risk of germs on surfaces and objects.

Operational Change Management Tool from GAIG

Use this tool to conduct and record your risk assessments.

First, clean the surface or object with soap and water.

Then, disinfect using an EPA-approved disinfectant.

If an EPA-approved disinfectant is unavailable, you can use 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions to disinfect. Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together. Find additional information at CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility.

You should also consider what items can be moved or removed completely to reduce frequent handling or contact from multiple people. Soft and porous materials, such as area rugs and seating, may be removed or stored to reduce the challenges with cleaning and disinfecting them. Find additional reopening guidance for cleaning and disinfecting in the Reopening Decision Tool.

It is critical that your plan includes how to maintain a cleaning and disinfecting strategy after reopening. Develop a flexible plan with your staff or family, adjusting the plan as federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local guidance is updated and if your specific circumstances change.

Determine what needs to be cleaned

Some surfaces only need to be cleaned with soap and water. For example, surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched should be cleaned and do not require additional disinfection. Additionally, disinfectants should typically not be applied on items used by children, especially any items that children might put in their mouths. Many disinfectants are toxic when swallowed. In a household setting, cleaning toys and other items used by children with soap and water is usually sufficient. Find more information on cleaning and disinfection toys and other surfaces in the childcare program setting at CDC’s Guidance for Childcare Programs that Remain Open.

These questions will help you decide which surfaces and objects will need normal routine cleaning.

Is the area outdoors?

Outdoor areas generally require normal routine cleaning and do not require disinfection. Spraying disinfectant on sidewalks and in parks is not an efficient use of disinfectant supplies and has not been proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public. You should maintain existing cleaning and hygiene practices for outdoor areas.

The targeted use of disinfectants can be done effectively, efficiently and safely on outdoor hard surfaces and objects frequently touched by multiple people. Certain outdoor areas and facilities, such as bars and restaurants, may have additional requirements. More information can be found on CDC’s website on Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread directly to humans from water in pools, hot tubs or spas, or water play areas. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (for example, with chlorine or bromine) of pools, hot tubs or spas, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there are additional concerns with outdoor areas that may be maintained less frequently, including playgrounds, or other facilities located within local, state, or national parks. For more information, visit CDC’s website on Visiting Parks & Recreational Facilities.

Has the area been unoccupied for the last 7 days?

If your workplace, school, or business has been unoccupied for 7 days or more, it will only need your normal routine cleaning to reopen the area. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.

There are many public health considerations, not just COVID-19 related, when reopening public buildings and spaces that have been closed for extended periods. For example, take measures to ensure the safety of your building water system. It is not necessary to clean ventilation systems, other than routine maintenance, as part of reducing risk of coronaviruses. For healthcare facilities, additional guidance is provided on CDC’s Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.

GAIG Building Reactivation Checklist

Ready to re-open your vacant building after temporarily closing due to circumstances that required you to halt services? Since your building has been closed for some period of time, it may have been exposed to perils such as vandalism and weather-related damages that went unnoticed. Opening a facility that has been closed for any period of time should be done carefully. You should check for damages that may have been caused while the building was vacant. Additionally, for the safety of your staff and patrons, you should ensure your building and equipment are up to safety codes prior to offering services again. Use this checklist to help you properly reopen your building.

Determine what needs to be disinfected

Following your normal routine cleaning, you can disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects using a product from EPA’s list of approved products that are effective against COVID-19.

These questions will help you choose appropriate disinfectants.

Are you cleaning or disinfecting a hard and non-porous material or item like glass, metal, or plastic?

Consult EPA’s list of approved products for use against COVID-19. This list will help you determine the most appropriate disinfectant for the surface or object. You can use diluted household bleach solutions if appropriate for the surface. Pay special attention to the personal protective equipment (PPE) that may be needed to safely apply the disinfectant and the manufacturer’s recommendations concerning any additional hazards. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children. Please visit CDC’s website on How to Clean and Disinfect for additional details and warnings.

Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection following reopening are:

  • tables,
  • doorknobs,
  • light switches,
  • countertops,
  • handles,
  • desks,
  • phones,
  • keyboards,
  • toilets,
  • faucets and sinks,
  • microwaves, dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.
  • gas pump handles,
  • touch screens, and
  • ATM machines.

Each business or facility will have different surfaces and objects that are frequently touched by multiple people. Appropriately disinfect these surfaces and objects. For example, transit stations have specific guidance for application of cleaning and disinfection.

Are you cleaning or disinfecting a soft and porous material or items like carpet, rugs, or seating in areas?

Soft and porous materials are generally not as easy to disinfect as hard and non-porous surfaces. EPA has listed a limited number of products approved for disinfection for use on soft and porous materials. Soft and porous materials that are not frequently touched should only be cleaned or laundered, following the directions on the item’s label, using the warmest appropriate water setting. Find more information on CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility for developing strategies for dealing with soft and porous materials.

Consider the resources and equipment needed

Keep in mind the availability of cleaning and disinfection products and appropriate PPE. Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Follow the directions on the disinfectant label for additional PPE needs. In specific instances, personnel with specialized training and equipment may be required to apply certain disinfectants such as fumigants or fogs. For more information on appropriate PPE for cleaning and disinfection, see CDC’s website on Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.

Implement your Plan

Once you have a plan, it’s time to take action. Read all manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaning and disinfection products you will use. Put on your gloves and other required personal protective equipment (PPE) to begin the process of cleaning and disinfecting.

Clean visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water

Clean surfaces and objects using soap and water prior to disinfection. Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Follow the directions on the disinfectant label for additional PPE needs. When you finish cleaning, remember to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean or launder soft and porous materials like seating in an office or coffee shop, area rugs, and carpets. Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest temperature setting possible and dry items completely.

Use the appropriate cleaning or disinfectant product

EPA approved disinfectants, when applied according to the manufacturer’s label, are effective for use against COVID-19. Follow the instructions on the label for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, dilution, application method, contact time and any other special considerations when applying.

Always follow the directions on the label

Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many product labels recommend keeping the surface wet for a specific amount of time. The label will also list precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.

Operational Cleaning & Disinfecting Log

Specific Area/Operation: ________________________________________________________________


Log Start Date: _______________________________ Document Owner: _______________________


Identify All Surfaces/Items to Clean


Surface/Item How Often Required Disinfectant



Cleaning Documentation Log


Date Person Time Initials

Maintain and Revise your Plan

Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 during daily activities. CDC provides tips to reduce your exposure and risk of acquiring COVID-19. Reducing exposure to yourself and others is a shared responsibility. Continue to update your plan based on updated guidance and your current circumstances.

Continue routine cleaning and disinfecting

Routine cleaning and disinfecting are an important part of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water alone can reduce risk of exposure and is a necessary step before you disinfect dirty surfaces.

Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets, should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use. For example, certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.

Consider choosing a different disinfectant if your first choice is in short supply. Make sure there is enough supply of gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the label, the amount of product you will need to apply, and the size of the surface you are treating.

Maintain safe behavioral practices

We have all had to make significant behavioral changes to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To reopen America, we will need to continue these practices:

  • social distancing (specifically, staying 6 feet away from others when you must go into a shared space)
  • frequently washing hands or use alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • wearing cloth face coverings
  • avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • staying home when sick
  • cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces

It’s important to continue to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance for reopening America. Check this resource for updates on COVID-19. This will help you change your plan when situations are updated.

Consider practices that reduce the potential for exposure

It is also essential to change the ways we use public spaces to work, live, and play. We should continue thinking about our safety and the safety of others.

To reduce your exposure to or the risk of spreading COVID-19 after reopening your business or facility, consider whether you need to touch certain surfaces or materials. Consider wiping public surfaces before and after you touch them. These types of behavioral adjustments can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. There are other resources for more information on COVID-19 and how to Prevent Getting Sick.

Another way to reduce the risk of exposure is to make long-term changes to practices and procedures. These could include reducing the use of porous materials used for seating, leaving some doors open to reduce touching by multiple people, opening windows to improve ventilation, or removing objects in your common areas, like coffee creamer containers. There are many other steps that businesses and institutions can put into place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect their staff and the public. More information can be found at CDC’s Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission.

Appendix A – Reopening Decision Trees

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