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Coronavirus: Belfast's visitor attractions aim to ward off virus with deep cleans

Two visitor attractions in Belfast stepped up their cleaning regimes on Wednesday in an effort to protect customers from the coronavirus.

At the We Are Vertigo activity centre in Newtownbreda, professional cleaners used protective masks and a device known as a sanitiser cannon to make the site as safe as possible.

The cleaning regime at HMS Caroline at Belfast docks has also been stepped up considerably as a pre-emptive measure.

We Are Vertigo's chief executive, Gareth Murphy, said the normal cleaning measures had been increased to reassure staff and customers.

"The support unit look at all touch services, door handles, the apparatus, the seats and have a very unique approach to how they introduce the cleaning to each site," he said.

"It is peace of mind for customers, but it's also very important to have a sterile environment, as clean as you can make it."

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A deep clean takes place yesterday at the We Are Vertigo activity centre

A deep clean takes place yesterday at the We Are Vertigo activity centre

A deep clean takes place yesterday at the We Are Vertigo activity centre

With many local families cancelling travel plans, he said there had actually been an increase in bookings over the Easter period.

Paul Fitz is manager with Forensic Cleaning NI, which specialises in decontamination work. The team avoid shaking hands and use protective clothing as they meticulously set about their work.

Using brushes and sprays on the inflatable obstacles inside, the dramatically titled sanitiser cannon resembles a vacuum cleaner and emits an almond-scented spray for hard to reach areas like high-up mounted TV screens.

"This is part of the regular cleaning we do for Vertigo, but the frequency is increasing because of the threat of coronavirus and to reduce the risk," he said.

"Touch tablets, door handles, sanitisers, bathrooms, the children's soft play area and ski masks are all getting regularly sprayed.

"To customers, I would say it does no harm keeping a bit of space between each other, you don't need to be beside each other all the time."

Mr Fitz said he believed Northern Ireland was currently managing the coronavirus crisis better than other parts of the UK, but called for more drastic measures.

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A deep clean takes place yesterday at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park

A deep clean takes place yesterday at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park

A deep clean takes place yesterday at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park

"I believe we have a chance to contain it and I firmly believe we should be on shutdown immediately whenever we're healthy, rather than isolate the population when they're sick."

He added: "It's two weeks, that's all it's going to be. If everybody isolates with non-essential transport, that will work."

Mr Fitz also called on airports to relax rules on bringing liquid on to planes and said passengers were having to bin bottles of hand sanitiser.

At HMS Caroline, Andrew Crawford, director of the Belfast-based Cleanwell company, said there had been "a significant spike" in business.

"I don't think the coronavirus has come to full fruition, but I think a lot of businesses here in Belfast are taking some precautionary steps to make sure they're protected," he said.

"What we've seen in the industry is a change in demand from an aesthetic clean to a hygienic clean. So people are more interested in getting cleaners to focus on door handles, fridge handles, your microwave, keyboards and lift buttons.

"I think it's also important that staff members in these offices are vigilant to these things as well by using hand sanitisers, following regulations on washing your hands as often as possible and generally steering clear of your eyes, nose and mouth."

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