Charlotte Godziewski By: Charlotte Godziewski
Lecturer in Sociology and Policy
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03 Oct 2020 : Certified COVID-safe

COVID-related signs are everywhere. From the University I work in to my local gym, it’s impossible to overlook the number of hand sanitizers, all the stickers encouraging people to wear face coverings, and the stickers on floors determining the direction of travel. Of course, these measures serve an important purpose, but I do have a few issues with them.

My first problem is how institutions (such as Universities, for example) use these little building-tweaks to declare themselves ‘COVID-secure’. This strikes me as a very bureaucratic way to literally wash your hands over issues of COVID transmission. Of course we need to adapt spaces to make them safer. But throwing in certifications can give a false sense of safety to some people, but more importantly, it can be used as a way for institutions to deresponsibilise themselves from any outbreak occurring on their premise.

Furthermore, it opens a box for profit-making scams that feed off the fear of people, especially in deregulated markets: When I entered my gym for the first time since it re-opened, I noticed a ‘official-looking’ COVID-free certification on the door. Turns out the gym had hired a company to undertake an in-depth disinfection of the whole space. Obviously, this initiative comes from a concern to provide a safe space for customers, but again, I have serious doubts as to how useful a one-off disinfection of a premise is, given how COVID is transmitted. I have no idea how much they have paid for this service, but it strikes me as a bit of a predatory scam.

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