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Important Message to Business Operators about Closed Business Premises and Legionnaires’ Disease (Legionellosis)

Published on Friday, 17th April 2020

NBBC is advising businesses of the action they need to take to avoid the growth of Legionella bacteria in their water systems whilst the business is closed.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many business premises have been temporarily wholly or partly shut down. NBBC is advising businesses of the action they need to take to avoid the growth of Legionella bacteria in their water systems whilst the business is closed.

In vacant or partially unused properties, water can stagnate within hot and cold water systems. This can lead to Legionella bacteria growing to harmful levels that could lead to someone contracting Legionnaires’ Disease, when water systems are put back in use. The risk of this happening also tends to increase during warmer weather and where equipment that produces water aerosols is used e.g. showers, high pressure hoses, misters etc.

Legionnaires’ Disease is a type of pneumonia which can cause serious illness in persons who are susceptible, such as those over 50 years of age, smokers and those with underlying health conditions.  The disease is caused by Legionella bacteria in the water supply being breathed into the lungs. In Europe, just under 1 in 10 of those acquiring the disease die.

Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio holder for Planning, Development and Health, Cllr Neil Phillips - states that:

“NBBC are continuing to support businesses during this difficult period with the aim of helping them to ensure that there will be no additional risks resulting from the business closures that have occurred. Business operators have legal obligations to maintain the water systems in their premises to prevent growth of Legionella bacteria and Council officers are providing advice to help them with this duty."

As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and to minimise the chances of stagnation. To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.

NBBC officers are signposting business owners to recently published guidance on what they can do to keep Legionella under control:

Guidance has been produced by the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious disease on managing Legionella in building water systems during the COVID-19 pandemic

If any business operator requires any further information about the above, you can contact the Business Regulation and Support Team (Tel: 02476 376401 or email: foodteam@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk)

Stay at home

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.