How the Public Sector Can Prepare to Reopen After COVID-19

The public sector is a general term for various organizations, including public parks and schools. And each one comes with its own unique set of standards. However, there is some general guidance that any faction of the public sector can utilize as they prepare to reopen in the wake of COVID-19.

For example, a school or library will have different protocols than a museum or post office. But the general goals are likely the same:

Maintain Social Distancing

The recommended amount of space between individuals or small groups is six feet.

Gathering outdoors certainly feels safer due to the freer airflow, but that doesn’t mean we can safely come within six feet of each other.

Public parks in San Francisco set up social distance circles for groups to situate themselves safely without the guesswork. 

This also allows for easier enforcement. If there’s a lack of empty spaces, it means you’d need to find somewhere else to go. If you gather outside of the designated areas, parks department staff will notice quickly and can shut it down fast.

Another option is a COVID-19 A-frame sign customized to your needs. Similar to sidewalk ads for restaurants, this can grab attention to get key messages across in both indoor and outdoor environments. 

In terms of line queueing, it’s easy to find high-quality but affordable retractable belt stanchions that encourage social distancing. (Many organizations, both private and public, are using stickers on the ground for this, but we feel that’s far from best practice. Even in the best weather, they’re scuffed up and peeled back and need constant replacement.)

Another way to minimize the spread of disease is to create designated entry and exit pathways. Rather than have people coming and going through the same set of doors, you can have “EXIT ONLY” and “ENTRY ONLY” areas, and turn people away who attempt to backtrack. This is a common course of action for farmers markets and museums.

Helpful Questions

How can your spaces encourage more social distancing between people? Can a reduction in occupancy help?

If possible, is it better for schools to continue doing things virtually? How can we deliver the social services students and parents rely on when school isn’t in session?

For libraries, what about curbside pickup? For museums, are virtual tours and exhibits feasible?

These are the questions. We hope that they encourage some healthy discussions that lead to solid answers. 

Optimize Communication

Social distancing measures are only as good as the people asked to follow the protocols. That’s why it’s especially crucial that everyone is on the same page.

What Do We Need To Do?

This will also be dependent on the location, but signs at the entrances of both indoor and outdoor spaces will likely have some variation of the following:

  • Please wear a face mask at all times.
  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet of space
  • Return home if you’re feeling symptomatic
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Visit for more information

What Happens If We Don’t Do It?

An effective practice on COVID-19 signage, particularly for park entrances, is to express what will happen if people ignore guidelines. It doesn’t have to be an aggressive “we will shut it down otherwise!” Something as simple as, “Help keep our parks open!” should be sufficient in relaying the message as a suggestion or plea rather than a command.

Other Sign Ideas

  • How to wear a face mask.
  • Know the warning sign of an infection.
  • No mask, no service.


Staff needs to know exactly what to say to those breaking social distancing and face mask guidelines, and the course of action if there’s an escalation. Our frontline workers need all the help and support they can get, and having a predetermined approach is crucial to ensuring liability is minimized, visitors are calm, and the chance of disease spread is minimal.

Sanitize Regularly

Sanitizer stations in both indoor and outdoor spaces are going to be standard, so getting out ahead of it now is the best course of action. 

You want hand sanitizer dispensers at both sides of the entrance and exit points as well as throughout the facility. 

Staff should be wearing and regularly changing disposable gloves and masks. 

Outdoor parks should consider incorporating handwashing stations, which are available through many outlets for rent and purchase.

Prioritize Health and Safety

One person can spread the novel coronavirus to multiple people, which is why answering a questionnaire is commonly required before folks are allowed entry.

This questionnaire can be a sign at the entrance before they enter and can include questions such as:

  1. Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? 
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  1. In the past 14 days, have you been within six feet of someone who’s tested positive or presented symptoms of COVID-19?
  1. In the past 14 days, have you traveled outside of your regular routine?
  1. Do you live with anyone currently quarantining due to possible COVID-19 exposure?

If they answer YES to any of those questions, they need to get tested, and stay home and self-quarantine until the results come back. You can have these questions presented on a sign at the entry points, delivered via sheets of paper, or asked by a staff member.

Another precautionary measure is to administer temperature checks before entry is allowed. This should be done by a medical professional to ensure the reading is done properly and that the results are properly understood. There are third-party services that offer this measure for all types of businesses.

These precautions are also why it’s important to have trained backup staff on call in case they’re needed. This may not be feasible for all organizations, but local governments in charge of several areas of the public sector may find it more approachable than private businesses.

Partner with a Crowd Management Expert 

Who doesn’t like to say they have an inside connection? When you need expert advice on coronavirus-specific crowd management, call the SONCO team for no-obligation insight today at 888-766-2616 or online here.