• David Greschler

CRE: Getting ahead on COVID-19 compliance

The early impact of COVID-19 on commercial real estate (CRE) was swift, and profound. With businesses unexpectedly shuttered and their strategic plans on hold, CRE went quiet as everyone shifted their expectations in light of the new normal. In the past, CRE has remained resilient in the face of uncertainty, weathering public health crises, natural disasters, and economic downturns with moderate effects. In most of these cases, the impact was short-term; this time, it’s different. According to Deloitte, CRE has historically been about six months behind the overall economy in its reaction to economic fluctuations; this time, however the effects of COVID-19 hit quickly--and hard. What’s happening in CRE now According to Johns Hopkins University, the US documented 59,494 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on July 14. This number is higher than April and May, when the country experienced the most lethal phase of the pandemic. COVID-19 has shaken CRE to its core, with many fundamentals of the industry’s key operations flattened or sagging

  • Leasing volumes in previously thriving markets have plunged by up to 25%, reaching their lowest rates since 2013

  • Lending has remained steady, but lately, newly-cautious financial institutions have bumped interest rates up slightly

  • Liquidity has been affected by delayed or diminished rental incomes, and reduced revenue in core sectors like hospitality and brick-and-mortar retail

  • Operational costs for essential facilities remaining in operation during quarantine (warehouses, medical offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) have increased dramatically due to the increased need for deep-cleaning, sanitization, and added security

  • Real estate investments have slowed significantly due to market uncertainty and lack of confidence in appraisals

In response to the industry downturn, CRE has pivoted, proactively focusing on developing strategies that will get people back into professional spaces safely and efficiently.

Public health & safety With no end to the pandemic in sight, and increasing requirements for mask usage and social distancing, CRE’s clients will have a greater need to ensure compliance. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and The World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a number of core guidelines to help the public stay safe and healthy, and stop the spread of the virus, including:

· Using face coverings when out and about · Frequent hand washing · Social distancing · Covering coughs and sneezes · Not touching eyes, nose, and mouth · Sanitizing and disinfecting · Health monitoring · Staying home if symptoms are present · Stay up-to-date on the latest news & recommendations

But how does this translate to state-by-state commercial settings? All of the public guidelines of course still apply, but when we filter COVID-19 safety through a CRE lens we see additional risk factors around HVAC systems, air quality control, managing room and building capacity, and ensuring compliance with mask requirements.

Current federal mask guidelines are as follows:

  • The CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain

  • OSHA recommends allowing workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus

Below is a chart that breaks down current mask and PPE requirements and recommendations by state. Note that in some states, localities have provisions concerning face coverings for employees and/or customers. Confirm to make sure you have the most current information about your particular jurisdiction.

Mask Guidelines by State July 2020
Download PDF • 287KB

For those in CRE, the lack of a clear, granular understanding of current health and safety mandates can break a reopening strategy—or contribute to plunging a region backwards into lockdown. Current virus hotspots like Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas are examples of transmission rates that have gotten out of control due to lack of diligence. And because the numbers shift almost daily, any region can easily become the next high-risk area.

Validating the safety of your spaces

Ensuring the safety of commercial spaces will help to maintain the confidence of tenants, employees, and customers. To do this, it’s essential to have the capability to validate compliance with safe business practices.

Reporting on compliance, however, can be tricky. With constant shifts in space occupancy, gaps in mask (and other required PPE) usage, issues with HVAC optimization, and more, metrics related to compliance are more often than not a moving target.

Manual reporting is clearly not the answer. Having a dedicated resource focused on monitoring and reporting on compliance metrics isn’t a good use of time or money. The most efficient and cost-effective way of validating safe business practices is through automated compliance reporting.

Avoiding fines, liability, and shutdowns

Automated COVID-19 compliance reporting is a new necessity for owners, managers, and occupiers of CRE. Having compliance data quickly accessible using a secure, accurate dashboard helps spaces get open, stay open, and:

  • Avoid fines with automated logs that track mask usage with employees and customers

  • Reduce liability by demonstrating employee and customer mask enforcement in the past and present, and by forecasting requirements for the future

  • Prevent shutdowns through the ability to instantly share electronic mask usage reports with health officials and regulatory bodies

Reopen your spaces—and keep them open Staying open in a pandemic economy means getting ahead of the requirements and demonstrating compliance today. With Nomad Go’s platform that leverages computer vision at the edge, businesses can monitor key metrics such as mask usage, social distancing, and occupancy to make physical spaces safer, smarter and healthier. With real-time data and reports, businesses can reopen with confidence and demonstrate compliance. Learn more at

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