COVID-19 and Lost Property: 5 Helpful Reminders
Could I catch coronavirus from a coat I found? How can I safely meet to get my belongings back? Can I still give someone a reward to say thanks for finding my wallet?
Just some of the questions that might go through your head when dealing with lost or found belongings since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of simple reminders to think about when handling lost property.
- Assume any property might be contaminated
- Report the possession lost/found online
- Obey social distancing guidance when returning the belonging
- Give a thumbs-up and a wave to say thanks
- Buy a reward online that can be emailed or shipped directly to the finder
Assume any property might be contaminated
Research suggests that COVID-19 can last on surfaces anywhere from 4 hours to 3-4 days1. While the odds may be low that something you find has recently been handled by a person with coronavirus, it’s safest to assume it has been.
So, what can you do?
If you must touch the item, ideally use gloves which can then be disposed of or washed. Otherwise, ensure you can thoroughly clean your hands with an antibacterial wipe/gel, or soap and water.
Similarly, if you have just been reunited with your belongings, assume they are now contaminated. Wash any clothing or fabric materials, and wipe down electronic goods, wallets, passports, etc with an antibacterial wipe.
Report the possession lost/found online
Reporting lost property online or over the phone, keeps unnecessary contact down and everyone as safe as possible.
If the item has a SwagTag or contact info attached, great! Use that to get in touch with the owner to arrange a safe return.
Failing that, social media can come in handy. Facebook has many Lost & Found groups, usually dedicated to a particular town or area, that try to help reunite owners with their belongings. A short post with a picture and details of where it was found is all that’s needed.
Communicate via the platforms messaging channels to arrange a suitable time and place to meet that ensures you can both feel safe.
Obey social distancing guidelines when returning belongings
This has become ingrained into our way of life but it’s all too easily forgotten in the quest to find and reunite owners with their belongings.
When handing back possessions, whether it’s in a public place or at the owner’s home, place the item down and take a few steps back; the owner can then approach and collect their item.
Remember, you could be interacting with people that are vulnerable, high-risk, or self-isolating who would rather distance themselves as much as possible.
Once the transfer has taken place, you can then…
Give a thumbs-up and a wave to say thanks
No-one’s going to be offended if you don’t shake their hand, high-five, or give them a hug. It’s lost property, not a business transaction.
Express your thanks, then part ways with a cheerful thumbs-up, wave, and a big smile!
Buy a reward online that can be emailed or shipped directly
No-ones expecting you to provide a reward but sometimes the physical or emotional value of lost property can be so great that a token of appreciation feels necessary.
Cash, wine or a box of chocs, which have always been popular choices, are suddenly not so appropriate to give.
Instead, choose a reward that can be emailed to the finder, such as an e-gift card for Amazon or Netflix. Alternatively, pick out a gift that can be shipped directly to the finders address without you needing to visit the shops in person.
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