Este artículo está también disponible en / This post is also available in: Spanish
Once countries lift the health emergency, what will the “new status quo” be like? And how should we prepare for a new normal? Cities must continue to provide their inhabitants with mechanisms that allow their well-being through the improvement of urban spaces. Long before the arrival of COVID-19, the city of Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, was already rethinking new security strategies in times of crisis, which are being implemented today.
Considered the main street of urban activity in the municipality, on July 14th this part of the city underwent a transformation. From the traditional idea of a simple traffic roads to a more inclusive mobility space focused on pedestrians and cyclists rather than vehicles, through structural changes in the sidewalks width, accessibility and comfort.
Adapting cities to the “new normal”
The slogan of COVID-19 in the world today is: Caution. In Campo Grande, even before the city registered cases of contagion, the municipality established a contingency plan to deal with the coronavirus under the recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO). As a result, the city is the capital with the lowest COVID-19 index in the country, with 15.63 infected people for each group of 100,000 inhabitants, as of the date of this publication. 05/21/2020 – Page of the Municipal Secretary of Public health. current statistics.
In addition to the previous measures that had been taken in the framework of this project, under the new health regulations due to the COVID-19, the implementation of security and health measures were reinforced. Today, the priority is the adaptation of public spaces and new alternatives in public transportation for the benefit of people and the prevention of new infections. The public highway in the city, is a space that is being adapted to guarantee the distance between its users, as an alternative place for shopping centers, galleries and even as a place of leisure.
The new idea of who streets and roads in the city should be, corresponds to a more harmonious and integrated vision, where connectivity with existing bicycle lanes and adequate urban infrastructure for bicycles and rest areas are promoted. That is why Reviva Campo Grande Program, which covers an important space in the city, seeks to improve the quality of life for citizens.
In the next two years, the planned works are taking into account the effects of the pandemic, which generated significant changes in construction guidelines, some activities were suspended during the quarantine, but in late March, as civil construction activities were permitted, the constructions were resumed with only 20 workers under the rules that guarantee the health and safety of the workers.
Strategies for civil construction during the pandemic.
In Campo Grande, four strategies were adopted to give continuity to the rehabilitation of the city center:
- Biosafety protocols: Actions were established in line with the OMG recommendations to protect the safety of the workers and the community. The protocols addressed aspects related to the transportation of workers, food, accommodation and places designed for personal cleaning.
- Construction team trainings: For the new protocols to take place, trainings were carried out to implement new work and coexistence habits, as well as awareness campaigns for the implementation of measures to protect individual and collective wellbeing. These activities are now permanent in nature and include educational conferences, posters with information on COVID-19 and prevention means, to minimize the risk of contagion for workers and / or their families.
- Personal hygiene practices: Based on health protocols, devices for hand washing with water, soap, alcohol, antibacterial gel were installed. Points or places for personal washing were also located in front of the construction sites. These practical guidelines were also applied to spaces by disinfecting before and after use, on the surfaces of cafeterias, machines, vehicles and bathrooms. Additionally, a minimum distance between workers was imposed to avoid contagion in cafeterias and public transportation. Finally, the use of individual face protection masks was regularized, as well as daily checks of the temperatures of the workers.
- Monitoring and support: The masks, equipment, facilities and hygiene supplies are considered for individual and collective protection, it’s appropriate and permanent use is monitored with the same rigor as the EPIs and EPs standards by the security team at the construction site and surrounding areas. Additionally, if any person presents symptoms related to COVID-19, they must immediately notify the medical service; people who are considered “at higher risk” remain under confinement. Regular monitoring of the health status of workers and their families is carried out to quickly identify possible cases of infection and to lift the isolation measures provided for by the regulations.
It is not easy to adapt to the new normality imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the field of civil construction, the key to success lies in the implementation of adequate processes for the protection of the health and safety of workers. Preventive measures then become small actions, and although they require additional investment in addition to safety measures and new health procedures that were already taken place, they are necessary to have positive results and make a difference in how we can live safely during the pandemic and the new status quo.
You can consult the Portuguese version of this article: Obras e mobilidade em tempos de pandemia: o caso de Campo Grande at IDEAÇAO Blog, published on 21/05/2020
Fernanda Nascimento: Journalist, Image and Sound specialist at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS) and documentary filmmaker at the Image and Sound Museum. He has more than 20 years of experience in communication consulting, communication coordination, print and television media. As a communication consultant in the Reviva Campo Grande program, since 2018, together with the socio-environmental team. Within the scope of his work is the dissemination of actions related to Reviva, social mobilization, the press service and communication support for each stage of the work.
Juliana de Mendonça Casadei: Agronomist and journalist. Specialized in Environmental Planning and Management and a Master in Environmental Sanitation and Water Resources. He worked at the Municipal Secretariat for the Environment and Urban Development and at the Campo Grande Urban Planning Institute. Author of the book “Manual de Ética Profissional“. She is currently a Social and Environmental Consultant for the Reviva Campo Grande Program and a PhD student in Local Development.