By Angela Casco
Physical distancing, use of face masks, and frequent body temperature checks may not be the only “new rules” that come with the new normal. In offices and retail spaces, acrylic shields could be an additional defense against an invisible but very threatening enemy.
Current official guidelines from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) do not require businesses to put up clear partitions inside offices or retail spaces. Even so, various design companies are coming up with such shields, which may be no different from regular plastic covers in the restaurants that have opened and plastic bags-turned-partitions in public utility vehicles already running in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ). These shields made from acrylic, however, are sturdier, customizable, and easier to install.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in the guidelines released as early as February, has recommended the use of “physical barriers to reduce exposure to Covid-19, such as glass or plastic windows.”
For these partitions to last long, as these would likely be in place for a while, any material won’t do.
This is when acrylic, a type of plastic which is often considered an alternative to glass, (some say it’s better), becomes a sought-after raw material these days.
Acrylic is part of our landscape, seen in signs, sales displays, roof windows, lenses, and television screens. Even submarines use this type of plastic for windows to prevent breakage. It’s also durable enough that it can withstand a broad temperature range and various weather conditions. It also does not shatter even under high impact. In case it does, it fractures into large, dull-edged pieces.
Responding to a need
As soon as the new normal was an inevitable reality, companies started introducing acrylic barriers for commercial use. For Red Dot Design Co., it launched a product called “Sanishield.”
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“It’s our version of sneeze guards made for food and non-food counters,” the company said. “Made of clear acrylic plastic, it aims to protect frontliners against possible transmission of virally infected droplets.”
It comes in two standard sizes, small and large, but it can be fully customized should the client want it in a particular length and height, or whether it’s a hanging or countertop shield.
The team behind Technosign Corporation-Indoor and Outdoor Sign Specialist, meanwhile, is usually busy with creating signs for buildings and business establishments. The pandemic, however, has also prompted them to design acrylic shields instead, specifically for countertops.
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“As we expect the beginning of transitioning into a different type of quarantine, we are coming up with ways to help businesses safely reopen,” the company said.
A standard countertop shield (size of 120x50x100 cm and 4-mm thick clear acrylic) is available, but custom sizes can be made upon request, too.
Also hoping to assist in “making adjustments in the workplace” and “keeping staff and clients as safe as possible” post-quarantine is Arkigrafix Corporation, which has also shared its take on the protective shields.
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“Our acrylic barriers help maintain social distancing rules and reinforce public health practices,” the team said. “These clear plastic barriers help [prevent] seasonal or airborne contaminants, or viruses from spreading by creating space between people.”
Ideal for any point-of-sale countertops, including cash registers, doctors’ offices, and any other high-traffic areas such as banks, coffee shops, reception desks, and takeout and pickup locations, the brand offer two types of shields—single-face acrylic barriers and fully-enclosed barriers. Both come in different customizable sizes, along with a standard six-millimeter acrylic thickness.
Acrylic shields help maintain social distancing rules and reinforce public health practices. These clear plastic barriers help [prevent] seasonal or airborne contaminants, or viruses from spreading by creating space between people.
As these acrylic shields will be in convenience store countertops or office desks for a while during the GCQ (or even longer), it’s important to know how to clean it.
According to the three companies, it’s relatively “simple.” Much like handwashing, soap and water can do the job.
Use of alcohol is not recommended. Though it will not crack the shield, repeated exposure may slowly cause the material to become porous. In such cases, liquids like infected droplets can go right through, defeating the purpose of a shield.
Experts advise people to use non-abrasive soft cloth with water and mild soap or detergent solution. Then, they can wipe both sides of the acrylic barrier at least once daily.