My Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) During The Time of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

These are just my Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and don’t necessarily represent any professional advice. I do believe life has to go back to as normal as possible, because we are going to have this issue for several years.

This is what I think will work for me. I’m a high frequency traveler, who has in over 15 years been woefully sick once on the road, and most colds/flus go away reasonably quickly with the medicine I have in my medicine kit. I take supplements daily (Vitamin C is amongst them). I track my bodily functions as best as can be (Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Oura ring to also help detect temperature changes).

One piece of advice I have is to remember to never forget having empathy, because not everyone is going to follow the following SOPs. Remember to also be caring — it does not hurt to share what you have.

  1. It goes without saying, that if I am feeling sick, I will be staying home. If I have to sneeze, doing so in a mask, seems odd, so into the elbow. Coughing in a mask will be similar. Bottom line is: if I don’t feel well, I’m not headed out. Stay home, rest, and ensure that I’m only out when I feel well.

Further reading: Coughing and Sneezing, Sneeze Into Your Elbow, Not Your Hand. Please.

  1. Shaking hands is not going to happen. Even before the COVID-19 debacle, I would wash my hands after shaking hands. For Malaysians, this also means avoiding the “salam greeting” that involves even kissing hands (I don’t do this, but there are kids that do this to me sometimes, and I will politely decline). I am OK with a high five after a workout, mainly because I am headed to the washroom right after to wash my hands anyway.

Overall, the key here is: wash your hands before you touch your face. I wear glasses, so touching my eyes is quite rare. I almost never eat anything with my hands (save for things like nuts, bread, pizza), and I always wash before eating them. The time to clean your nose is while you’re showering, or over a tap in the comfort of your toilet.

  1. Wear a mask while being outside, always. The only exception to this is while eating and drinking. This is a cloth based reusable mask, washed on a daily basis. It might even be put into a bag on a per-use basis, for example when indoor gyms reopen, and I return to my spin studio (cycling on a stationary bike).

Further reading: Should You Wear a Mask When Exercising Outdoors?, Exercising Outdoors With a Face Mask, Ask Stew: Military PT and Exercise With Face Masks for Training and the Gym, Exercising with a face mask: The do’s and don’ts

  1. Social distancing is what a lot of people talk about but the key here is physical distancing. I am going to focus on two metres (2m) from others, not the general 1m that is recommended in Malaysia. To gauge, this is basically standing apart one of me. That means in a spin studio, or gym, I do not necessarily want to be extremely close to the other person.

Further reading: Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation

  1. I talk a lot about gyms and spin studios. I have access to 3 gyms and regularly rotate between 3 spin studios (sometimes 4). I will go back as soon as they reopen. It is important to balance lives and livelihoods, and spin studios have many wonderful instructors; every gym I visit has an ageing population that constitutes its members. In a gym, I have always wiped down the equipment (typically an elliptical) before and after a workout. This is important — it annoys me to no end that people don’t do this. I do this at hotels too, obviously (though some better hotels have attendants that handle the cleaning).

As for spin studios, I carry my own: antibacterial cleansing wipes and I also spray the equipment down with Dettol/Lysol antibacterial spray. I do this before using the equipment, as an added precaution (they are cleaned between sessions anyway). Feel free to share it with other riders next to you (I did this before the MCO).

I will resume morning walks at the parks, because I do not think this is an issue and it is good to get a dose of Vitamin D.

I am thinking about gym gloves as well. I have not decided about the use of a sauna yet. Nor have I decided on the risks from swimming.

Further reading: Is it possible to contract the coronavirus from swimming?

  1. I will return to dining out and visiting bars without issue. I will be socially distanced (1m at least from the next person), and this is again for a limited amount of people that I have as friends. When I go to a Chinese restaurant and we order dishes, I have always asked for a serving spoon for individual dishes; this practice continues (and you should adopt it, too). When I go to a “bak kut teh” shop, we normally share from a communal pot, and I am going to ask for individual bowls instead. As stated before, I practically never eat with hands, even when it comes to banana leaf rice, I use cutlery, so this does not change (you might consider using cutlery too).

It is going to change how I consume burgers and pizza slices when I’m outside. I am going to prefer to eat with cutlery. This is more psychological than it is practical, since I can continue washing my hands, eating, and then washing again after. This barrier may only be temporary.

I have never been much of a buffet person, and eat quite spartanly at a breakfast buffet. This is due to years of travelling and seeing how people behave at breakfast buffets. I prefer to eat at the club lounges (less people, hopefully more sophisticated), but overall I am going to prefer cooked food brought to my table over anything at a buffet. I was in Tokyo late February, when an international hotel chain gave their hotels 72-hours to implement scrapping buffets for meals brought to tables; this is what I will continue in terms of eating habits at buffets (generally, avoiding them).

In Malaysia, this means avoiding “chap fan” stalls (where food is kept in the open and you can serve yourself), and even some nasi lemak stalls (though these tend to be better; the seller serves you, and also closes the containers).

  1. Carry hand sanitiser always, and again, share and use liberally. It does not take away from the usual hand washing, but this is for situations where I can’t access running water and soap.
  2. When returning home, clothes straight to the wash, and a nice long hot shower before switching to clothes that I will wear within the house.

This also means purchasing more pairs of jeans (I only own 2). I am told Uniqlo has good deals. Though most of my days in Kuala Lumpur, I get away with gym attire.

Further reading: Is the Virus on My Clothes? My Shoes? My Hair? My Newspaper?

  1. I am going to vote with my wallet, by going to places that temperature screen patrons. It goes without saying that I am expecting them to also temperature screen employees, but ensuring patrons aren’t being irresponsible and coming in with a fever, is important. Restaurants that do vigorous sanitisation after patrons leave, get a vote in my book.
  2. Asking for my name and phone number for contact tracing purposes is one thing. Asking for my IC number is a no-no in my book. Handling of data is extremely important, and I do not ever want that to leak. So the less information you ask from me, the more I am likely to patronise your establishment. Clubs have this sorted with a club number. Spin studios have this sorted because you can’t spin without having booked a bike. But Joe Random restaurant that wants too much information, is a no go in my books, because I have no idea how this information is going to be kept, destroyed, and so on.
  3. Working in cafes or coworking spaces means that my iPad Pro Smart Keyboard or laptop is touching a surface that may be contaminated. Wipe downs of all devices, daily if they’ve been outside, make a lot of sense. This also includes that phone you’re most definitely holding often and any fitness bands.
  4. I drive more than I take public transport. When I refuel, I am going to make sure I use the hand sanitiser after touching the pump. When I do use public transport, typically the trains, I am going to again use hand sanitiser after. I use Grab’s more than I drive, and I will be sanitising again because I would have to touch door handles, seat belts, and so on.

A Shopping List:

  • more clothes (jeans)
  • antibacterial cleansing wipes/wet wipes
  • antibacterial sprays
  • hand sanitisers
  • washable, reusable face masks
  • gym gloves

This to me is a working list. I will update it based on new information. I will naturally have version control changelogs. Your suggestions are also naturally welcome. Please comment on the Google doc.