Orkney Islands Council is planning to start re-opening public toilets later this week.
The aim is to begin by opening the toilets at four sites on Friday 17 July.
These are at the Travel Centre and St Magnus Lane in Kirkwall and at the Pier Head and Ferry Road in Stromness – with more to follow over the weeks ahead.
Each will have one ladies’ toilet, one gents’ toilet and an accessible toilet available for use.
“Hygiene and physical distancing requirements mean that considerable work is needed at each site before the toilets open again,” said Hayley Green, OIC’s Head of IT and Facilities. “This means that it isn’t possible for us to open all of Orkney’s public toilets in one go.
“You will notice quite a few changes inside and outside the toilets. Please follow the instructions we’re providing in order to minimise any risks to yourself and our cleaning staff.
“Work is carrying on to re-open more public toilets over the next few weeks - keep an eye on social media and the OIC website for further updates.”
We need to introduce quite a lot of physical changes to our public toilets in order to meet Scottish Government guidance. We are also having to arrange to clean them more often, and so we are discussing with our staff and contractors about how this will be done. This is why we can’t open all the toilets on the 17th, but we are aiming to have all public toilets open during August.
There will be physical changes both outside and inside the toilets. You will be asked to follow physical distancing markers outside the toilet, and not all the facilities inside the toilet will be available. Because of this, please allow a little longer for your visit as you may need to wait for the toilets to be free. The toilets will need to be cleaned more frequently, and we will provide liquid soap for you to use to wash your hands, as well as a supply of cleaning products as required. We would ask everyone to please leave the soap and the cleaning products in the toilets for the next person to use - please do not take them away with you.
There is still some element of risk around using public toilets, and that is why we are having to make the changes described above. We are following Scottish Government guidance, which can be found here.
We have carried out risk assessments for each site and also a general risk assessment for the process of cleaning the toilets during the pandemic. All of our staff are being briefed on any changes to their working practices and equipment, including PPE where needed, will be provided. Trade Unions have been provided with the risk assessments and given the chance to make any comments.
We are currently working with our cleaners, including those who do relief cleaning for the council, as well as our contractors to assess their availability. If we need more cleaners, we will be looking to advertise this and recruit folk over the next few weeks.