Occupy the Omni Commons

Commons Use Protocol Under Covid-19:

These guidelines were created by referencing existing guidelines developed by our comrades at Punks with Lunch.

When faced with the threat of covid-19 and capitalism, Omni Commons remains committed to be a place to organize, to collaborate, to learn, to celebrate and to develop networks of mutual aid. We must however take caution and act responsibly to protect our community. We ask that organizers interested in using the Omni as a space for mutual aid activities review and implement the following guidelines.

It is important to note that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) adversely affects folks who are immunocompromised and people over 60. Moreover we must be aware that many of the communities we work with are the most vulnerable including our unhoused neighbors who lack access to clean running water, proper shelter, and are unable to self-quarantine.

These protocols are not created to prevent us from contracting COVID-19 (although this is a goal), but it is to prevent spreading COVID-19 to folks who are at-risk of suffering more severe complications. Additionally, we understand that every organization has different needs and accessibilities, so please take these guidelines as a starting point to your own conversations about personal and community safety while providing support to our communities.

1. If you are feeling sick, even if you think it may be just allergies, please stay home. Public Health officials have stated that if anyone feels sick that they are to self-isolate and quarantine themselves so as not to spread this virus to others. 

  • Consider suspending accepting new volunteers until  COVID-19 is more under control — let newer volunteers know why you are making this decision and ask them to check back in when things have calmed down a little. Smaller numbers of people gathering together, is less likely to infect more people if someone were to present CoronaVirus symptoms.
    • Let volunteers know this is only temporary and there will be opportunities to volunteer on distribution and outreach in the future.
  • Consider creating a rotating schedule and having volunteers on retainer to fill in for people who may end up contracting COVID-19.
  • If one person from an outreach team gets sick, the whole crew should be asked to self-quarantine for the incubation period (14 days) until no symptoms come up or they recovered and they are able to work again
  • When going on outreach and/or distribution, limit the amount of volunteers passing out supplies. Depending on the service you are providing, you might cut down volunteers to less than 6 people per outreach/distribution.

2. Provide training for staff and volunteers on sanitation procedures, and the proper wear of personal protective equipment. 

3. Provide proper and sufficient hand cleaning stations, stocked with hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, or soap and water.  Public Health officials have stated that hand washing is a key tool to help prevent the spread of the virus. Wash hands periodically with soap for 20 seconds.

4. Maintain 6ft distance between folks.

5. All volunteers and staff should cover their mouth with facemasks and wear gloves if supplies are available.

6. Take proper sanitation precaution in preparing the distribution space.

  • All volunteers must wash their hands throughout the day. (When coming in from the streets, before handling, after touching their face, after touching surfaces that may not have been wiped down).
  • All surfaces must be wiped down before prep with antibacterial solution or wipes
  • All containers used for distribution should be wiped down.
  • Wipe down tables completely before distribution
  • Ensure that you have hand sanitizer and gloves with us to bring to site.

7. Maintain clean working surfaces. Routinely and efficiently clean facilities and surfaces often. Notes on cleaning:

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • Cleaning: Wash surfaces with soap and water to remove dirt and food. Rinse with water, and follow with a bleach solution to kill germs. Even if a surface is not visibly dirty, you should clean and disinfect with bleach solution.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions (10% bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon water)), alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. 
  • Guide and supply staff and volunteers to take measure to clean and disinfect key surfaces routinely.
  • Disinfection usually requires the bleach to remain on the surface for a certain period of time (e.g., letting it stand for 3 to 5 minutes) to kill virus and germs.

8. Develop and provide procedures for sanitizing all donations received and distributed. 

Additional Notes:

* There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is spread through food, but please make sure that you follow health code standards of preparing food.

* If a volunteer accidentally spits on the food by talking, laughing, etc, please throw that food away (this should be done anyway).

Offer jobs other volunteers can do instead of them going to distribution like making more prepackaged kits, help print informational flyers, catch up on data, do research about providers in the area that are not suspending services, contact medical providers who will accept people with soft tissue infections or medical conditions that are not related to COVID-19