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Managing the risk of Legionnaires disease after lockdown

Time Published 24th March 2021

On 12th April England will move into step 2 of the UK Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with the reopening of public buildings such as libraries and community centres.

Wales are currently on Alert Level 4 and dates for reopening are not confirmed, however, this information will help you to prepare.

If your council has community buildings, sports pavilions etc, that have been closed due to the Covid restrictions you must consider the risk of Legionnaires Disease before re-opening.

What should you do before opening?

  • Flush through all cold water taps for several minutes*
  • Increase the temperature of hot water to above 60°c and flush though all hot water taps for several minutes*. Temperatures above 60°c will kill the legionella bacteria.
  • Have a chemical or thermal disinfection of the water system carried out.
  • Finally – have a microbiological sampling for legionella undertaken to ensure you are safe to re-open.

*you should leave taps running long enough to completely empty the water system so there is only clean, fresh water in the taps.

There are companies across the UK that will carry out the last two steps and there will be a cost but employers, business owners and landlords have a legal duty to manage the risk of exposure to the Legionella bacteria.

Advice notes on Legionella control are available on SLCC website or for further guidance see ‘Legionnaires’ disease: Lockdown risk and reopening safely’ by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health which is available online https://www.cieh.org/media/4208/legionella-guidance-covid-19.pdf

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