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HomeSecurityAlarm SystemsCOVID-19 Delta Demands New Access Control Approach

COVID-19 Delta Demands New Access Control Approach

Security managers are under increasing pressure to alter the way they manage access control to resist COVID-19 Delta’s elevated workplace infection rates. More than just managing social distancing in real time and contact tracing, that means keeping high risk staff members out of shared space altogether using some form of vaccination green pass.

There a couple of numbers that argue this case – the first being that COVID-19 Delta infections in the workplace are now running at 10 per cent in NSW. These figures are far higher than were registered for the Alpha variant in the first half of 2020. The second set of numbers speaks even louder – they tell us that in the United States only 150 of more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths registered in May occurred in vaccinated patients – that’s just 0.83 per cent of total deaths. It’s a huge difference.

There’s another number to keep an eye on, too. It’s Australia’s trudging vaccination rates. We are at around 14 per cent full vaccination at press time, compared to 49 per cent for America, 53 per cent for the United Kingdom and 59 per cent for Israel. And these countries have much higher first dose numbers – around 90 per cent in the UK – higher in Israel. Comparatively, a much larger percentage of Australia’s population is going to be vulnerable to the Delta variant’s higher death toll for a lot longer.

Delta is not only more dangerous, it’s as contagious as the ‘flu. Presently, there are more patients in ICU and more patients ventilated in key hospitals like Sydney’s RPA, that at any time during the pandemic. So significant is the impact in some hospitals that major surgery has been suspended because there are too few ICU beds to support patients experiencing negative outcomes from surgical procedures. According to reports, Delta infection is twice as likely to lead to hospitalisation as Alpha.

From the point of view of security and risk management – and this applies to security integrators and installers, too – allowing unvaccinated workers into shared office spaces or encouraging them to be in contact with customers – risks breaching a duty of care that may have legal ramifications in the future.

An issue no less impactful on business survival in an already challenging environment is a workplace closed down by health authorities because of an outbreak caused by mismanagement – just one case is enough to get doors barred and the entire building into 14 days isolation – if your team is working residential high rise, the lockdown could be even longer.

Then there’s the impact on the professional reputation of a security team or organisation that finds itself responsible for causing an outbreak that may lead to death – particularly among vulnerable members of the population. And none of this touches on the impact of ongoing lockdowns on the customers of security businesses.

What’s the answer? For security teams, COVID strategies like proximity detection, people counting, tightly controlled visitor management, overarching reporting functions, and remote functionality must be enhanced. Other aspects of a COVID-safe environment that bear consideration revolve around low touch access control solutions, including touchless exit buttons, touchless biometrics, including face recognition solutions able to handle access, time and attendance, and contact tracing.

In many cases, the greatest functionalities may be delivered by integration of systems that allow analytics to deliver specific information without the need for searches. This sort of information may include a video record of who came into contact with a particular team member and for how long at every camera point across a site, as well as showing the locations a particular team member visited.

But more is required – a France/Italy style vaccination pass managed by existing access control systems that ensures only vaccinated staff members can access sites is the best way forward. While the French and Italian governments have made the COVID green pass mandatory for many activities in public space, adding vaccination as an access control rule is something we already see in Australia in medical and aged care facilities, so there is a clear precedent.

The best access management solutions already have the capacity to grant or deny access on the basis of variables like up-to-date training or the completion of scheduled medical tests – tweaking this capacity to include COVID vaccination is a minor work that could easily be installed remotely in many access control applications.

We’ve said this before but here it is again – while some people are highly resistant to COVID-19 vaccination, the vast majority are not. Security people, whose roles are built on duty of care, proactive protection and safety strategy, should lead the way, not only when it comes to vaccination, but vaccination management, too.


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