While multiplexes in most parts of the country look like they are in for a long spell of suspended operations, those who clean and maintain these facilities cannot suspend operations. Without regular housekeeping, assets like leather seats and carpets are prone to develop mold and deteriorate. Other areas too need to be regularly cleaned to maintain the life of the assets, and keep them in a state of readiness for when multiplexes can welcome patrons back again.
Sonia Mital, General Manager-Housekeeping, INOX Leisure Ltd writes about the housekeeping plan being executed in cinemas across India to prevent damage to the facility, and how it is being carried out.
“The best way to stop rust and corrosion is not to allow the metal to come in contact with water, oxygen or acid. Rust and corrosion inhibitors chemically bond to the metal surface, forming a protective film over the underlying metal.”
Maintaining housekeeping protocol during lockdown was followed by the entire INOX team. We ensured that the staff visited their respective units every fourth day to oversee adherence to the following pointers:
- Preparing and working on the detailed inspection report, laying emphasis on any unusuality observed, assessing the relative importance of any issue, and citing ways to rectify the same with minimal expenditure.
- Conducting effortless cleaning tasks which are deemed appropriate.
- Keeping a close watch on all perishable food items which are likely to be past their expiration date, and disposing them off systematically.
- Housekeeping machines that were sitting unused were run occasionally to prevent them from stiffening up.
- Deep cleaning of the entire premises was done once every fortnight.
Challenges during lockdown
Communication was a challenge during this time. Information about the virus and how to combat it was changing by the minute, leaving strategies and protocols in a perpetual holding pattern as new information and advice were announced almost daily. The other challenge was the inconsistency of information coming in from federal, state and local governments, and from leading health and infectious disease control institutes. Luckily, the every-fourth-day visits helped in upkeep of the multiplexes. We did not face any major issues like mold or fungus.
New technology and new costs
The post-pandemic guest has become more cautious about every touch point in the multiplex than ever before. The pandemic demanded a whole new SOP for INOX with the introduction of ULV sanitisation machines, electrostatic fogging, colour coded segregations, frequent disinfection of touch points and introducing new chemicals that enhance the sense of health, safety and hygiene.
The high costs, that are inherent to an integral department like housekeeping, are expected to rise as additional precautions have been taken for the safety of the guests and the staff as well.
The need for upholstery and carpet cleaning
Soft surfaces like carpets and upholstery are less inviting for viruses like Covid than hard surfaces. The virus can live for several days on metal surfaces like doorknobs, but evidence suggests it doesn’t survive as well on fabrics and other porous surfaces like carpets. Since carpets and upholsteries are a magnet for dust mites and pollen that can cause problems for people with allergies and other conditions, routine professional cleaning and disinfecting is encouraged under any circumstances. Specialised sanitisation like electrostatic fumigation has been found to be the most comprehensive way to remove germs and dirt.
Even the Centre for Disease Control recommends removing ‘visible contamination’ from carpets and other soft surfaces and cleaning with appropriate antimicrobial products like the ones used in electrostatic fumigation.
Specific cleaning processes
Here are some processes INOX has followed diligently to keep the carpet and upholstery clean:
- Brushing down upholstery pieces and carpet with an upholstery brush or soft carpet brush and a manufacturer-recommended cleaning product regularly.
- Vacuum clean the upholstered furniture with a HEPA filter, laying emphasis on the cracks and crevices.
- Getting the soft surfaces treated periodically with an antimicrobial reagent.
- Enhanced cleaning practices in conjunction with our chemical partners in all guest and administrative areas of the property.
HVAC cleaning of an unused facility
Now that the research indicates that transmission of the coronavirus via HVAC system is more likely than not, making sure the ducts are cleaned and sanitized has never been more important. Luckily, this treatment typically takes less than a day to complete and has long-lasting health results. Surfaces are usually cleaned by removing contaminants like dust or debris, then a surface- appropriate disinfectant is applied by spraying. The frequency of cleaning depends on the humidity and temperature prevailing in the unit and is carried out after careful evaluation of the system in INOX on every visit.
Protecting F & B areas
The best way to stop rust and corrosion is not to allow the metal to come in contact with water, oxygen or acid. Rust and corrosion inhibitors chemically bond to the metal surface, forming a protective film over the underlying metal. Some popular compounds being used in INOX are Buzil’s Metapol and JD’s Suma D7.
Frequency of cleaning
Since the entire property is essentially closed to all except for the essential staff, walls, floors and soft furnishings do not need to be cleaned unless clearly soiled. But INOX management undertakes a thorough cleaning of the entire multiplex every fortnight and effortless cleaning tasks that are deemed appropriate are carried out on every fourth day visit.
Best practices include allocating one attendant per unit to reduce cross-contamination. Furthermore, housekeeping managers of INOX are asked to stay in touch with the attendants and use online platforms to begin retraining. This allowed the team to get ahead of the crisis and be ready for the new normal. After re-opening, guests will have a keener eye on the work of the housekeeping team, which is why they need to be prepared.
Housekeeping activities are being prioritised. Going forward, we have started investing more in the housekeeping department than any other department in the facility.