COVID-19 Sanitation & Hygiene Guide for Retail Tobacconists

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, retailers should have procedures and supplies in place to encourage proper hand and respiratory hygiene as well as routine cleaning and disinfection of high-risk locations.

Quick Checklist

  • Train employees on cleaning, disinfecting, and protective measures, per CDC guidelines
  • Have and use cleaning products and supplies
  • Follow protective measures
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently (light switches, doorknobs, etc)
  • Use EPA-approved disinfectant
  • Ensure food containers and utensils are cleaned and sanitized
  • Prepare and use sanitizers according to label instructions
  • Offer sanitizers and wipes to customers to clean grocery cart/basket handles, or utilize store personnel to conduct cleaning/sanitizing

Clean & Disinfect

As part of standard infection control practices, routine cleaning and disinfection should be ongoing, and time should be allocated for individuals on a regular, recurring basis. Surfaces touched most frequently should be prioritized for routine cleaning and disinfection as these surfaces can be reservoirs for germs and an exposure pathway for transmission to people through contact with these surfaces. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched areas:

  • High-touch surfaces in your shop/lounge and office, including but not limited to checkout stations and payment pads, light switches, handrails, store entrance push/pull pads, doorknobs, handles, keys, phones, sinks, faucets, remote controls, keyboards, desks, chairs, keyboards, mice, countertops.
  • Stocking equipment
  • Floors / carpets
  • Entryways and high traffic areas
  • Restrooms (all surfaces, fixtures, doorknobs, push plates and switches)
  • Heat and air conditioner vents
  • Walls (spot cleaning)
  • Horizontal surfaces and light fixtures
  • Linens (regularly cleaning and launder)


  • Wear disposable gloves and gowns to clean and disinfect.
    • Additional PPE might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash.
    • Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water first, then use disinfectant. Cleaning reduces number of surface germs, dirt and impurities. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces.
    • Based on the frequency of use, some surfaces may need to be cleaned and disinfected more often than others.
    • Surfaces and objects in public places, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
    • Frequently touched surfaces include: Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.


  • Use EPA-registered household disinfectant. Follow instructions on label to ensure safe and effective use. Many products recommend:
    • Keeping surface wet for a specified period of time
    • Wearing gloves and ensuring you have good ventilation during use
  • Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used recommended disinfectants are unavailable.
    • Check the label to learn if your bleach is intended for disinfection, and ensure the product is not expired. Some bleaches, like those used on colored clothing or for whitening may not be suitable for disinfection.
    • Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Follow instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Leave solution on the surface for at least 60 seconds.
    • To make a bleach solution, mix:
      • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per 1 gallon of water OR 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water
  • Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
  • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.

Cleaning & Disinfecting by Surface Type

Soft surfaces (carpeted floors, rugs, drapes, e.g.)
  • Clean the surface with soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for these surfaces.
  • Launder items (if possible) according to manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.


  • Disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant. These disinfectants meet EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19.
Electronics (tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, ATM machines, e.g.)
  • Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting. If no guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.
Laundry (Clothing, towels, linens, e.g.)
  • Launder items according to manufacturer’s instructions. Use warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from a person who is sick.
  • Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.
  • Remove gloves, and wash hands right away.
Outdoor Areas

Outdoor areas generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection.

  • High touch surfaces made of plastic or metal should be cleaned routinely.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces (benches, tables, etc) or groundcovers (mulch, sand) is not recommended.
  • Sidewalks and roads should not be disinfected. Spread of COVID-19 from these surfaces is very low and disinfection is not effective.


It is important that business owners and employees take important preventive measures—practicing healthy personal hygiene and physical distancing to protect yourselves and reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Signage, handwashing procedures and hand, cart/basket, checkout sanitizing stations should be available in prominent locations.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available for employee use after payment/bagging exchange with each patron
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer):
  • Before and after eating
  • After sneezing, coughing or nose blowing
  • After using the restroom
  • Before handling food
  • After contact with animals
  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
    • After touching or cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated 
    • After handling trash
    • After performing any cleaning
    • After using public transportation
    • After using shared equipment and supplies, including electronic equipment such as keyboards, mice and phones 
    • Immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a person who is sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or sleeve.
  • Dispose of soiled tissues immediately after use.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Do not shake hands (wave instead)
  • If you interact with customers, coworkers or employees, remember to wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after every transaction. 
  • Keep at least 6’ of distance between yourself and others whenever possible. Consider providing ‘markers’ to help ensure customers maintain adequate distance.
  • Do not gather in groups. 
  • Wear a face covering. This can be any well-secured paper or cloth (like a bandana or scarf) that covers your mouth and nose. It is essential that staff continue practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene even when wearing a face covering whenever possible. 

Additional Recommendations for Employers

  • Instruct sick employees to stay home and send home immediately if sick. 
  • Pre-screen employees exposed to COVID-19 for temperature and other symptoms
  • Educate all staff to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
  • Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all employees and cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks.
  • Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly put on and take off PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
  • Ensure employees are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard
  • Comply with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens, including proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE.
  • CDC only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List N against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Cleaning and Disinfecting your Building or Facility if Someone is Sick

  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
    • Companies do not necessarily need to close operations, if they can close off affected areas.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
  • Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use.
    • Workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
  • If more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
    • Continue routine cleaning and disinfection. This includes everyday practices businesses normally use to maintain a healthy environment.

Human Touch Surfaces: Retail Tobacconists Checklist for Cleaning & Disinfecting

The following is offered as guidance. Retailers are encouraged to assess your particular store and revise as needed.

General areas:
  • Doorknobs/frames/handles/other frequently touched areas on the door
  • Desks/tables/chairs/countertops
  • Hand railings
  • Light switches
  • Water fountains
  • Elevator buttons
  • Shared equipment (POS systems, electronics, computers, mice, phones, etc.)
  • Floors
  • Display cases
Kitchen/staff rooms/offices:
  • Fridge handles
  • Microwaves
  • Coffee pots/kettles
  • Tables/chairs
  • Coat hooks
  • Door handles
  • Sinks and faucets
  • Towel dispensers
  • Soap dispensers and push plates
  • Baby changing stations
  • Trash receptacle touch points
  • Toilet seats
  • Toilet bowls and urinals

Sample Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP)


U.S. Food & Drug AdministrationCoronavirus.govCenters for Disease Control and PreventionNew York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneThe Food Industry Association; Julie Lanzillo, Pairings Cigar Bar