Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): opening public and customer toilets

Last updated: 2 Sep 2021 - see all updates
Published: 27 Jun 2020

Guidance on opening of public and customer toilets during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): opening public and customer toilets


The operation of public toilets carries with it a risk of transmission of COVID-19 given the low levels of natural light, lack of ventilation, many surfaces to touch and the purpose of a toilet. Therefore, there is a need for careful consideration of how public toilets can operate as safely as possible.  

Public and customer toilets are defined as any toilets accessible to the public. The safe operation of toilets should be accompanied by local risk assessment, and control measures should be proactively monitored by operators. 

This guidance should be used alongside any sectoral guidance applying to the sector/setting in which the public or customer toilet is located.

Most premises should have a norovirus policy that can be adapted for use in cleaning facilities if an individual with COVID-19 symptoms is known to have used the facilities. Assurance that adequate sanitary facilities can be provided where appropriate is integral to the safe operation of the public or customer toilet.

Risk assessment should specifically include:

  • cleaning and janitorial staff for whom operators should already have procedures/PPE in place
  • remote/unmonitored facilities for which there may be increased demand once travel restrictions are eased and people start travelling greater distances

Any modifications or changes must take existing regulations into account. Regulations on the provision of public toilets are governed by a number of British Standards developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI). The key standards which apply to the provision of public toilets are BS 6465 parts 1-4 and BS 8300.

In re-opening toilets, operators should:

  • conduct routine checks and take all measures appropriate to reopening after a prolonged closure e.g. consideration of requirements for legionella risk management due to stagnant water in plumbing systems
  • conduct routine checks to ensure that toilets and their flushing operations as well as hand dryers are working effectively to minimise as much as possible the generation of either aerosols/and or droplets
  • review all toilet and sanitary facilities (including disabled and baby change areas) to determine whether the fixtures and fittings are in good working order and replace or repair if not
  • adjustments must be made such as signage to remind users of the precautionary measures in place, such as the requirement to wear face coverings unless exempt, and facilitate good hand hygiene
  • consider the need for additional waste management arrangements

First published: 27 Jun 2020 Last updated: 2 Sep 2021 -