Hygiene Theatre

August 2021

Individuals, institutions and high-rise communities continue to maintain the same cleaning and quarantine regimens as at the start of the pandemic.  Experts describe this as “hygiene theatre” – cleaning behaviours that give a sense of comfort, security and protection but are unlikely to impact on COVID-19 transmission.

  • Toronto libraries require returned materials be set aside for “96 hours or more until they are safe to circulate.”
  • Loblaws undertakes “increased” sanitization which includes frequent deep cleaning.
  • Individuals continue to wipe down mail and groceries.
  • High-rise communities close off access to management offices, restrict resident movement, limit repairs and maintenance, and undertake superficial cleaning.

The cost of disposable wipes and disinfecting supplies, and time we spend cleaning in this way, has negligible positive impact, high cost and a negative impact on the environment.

Experts say the best way to minimize surface transmission is with conventional cleaning and personal hygiene using hand disinfectant or soap.  High-rise communities should focus more on improving ventilation and redesigning common areas so residents can socialize, work, study and exercise.

Its time for hygiene theatre to end.