Pandemic Safety Signage Through the Ages

With the onset of Covid-19 more and more businesses are scrambling to meet required regulations for signage and have signs and printing that can help their customers. They need to help direct their clients, keep them informed, and keep everyone safe. 

This feels new, having to post signs to protect people during a pandemic, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s a variation on an old theme of protection, prevention, and education. 

Signs were how the population was informed in the Spanish Flu of 1918. Famous signs then were ones in theaters that said, “Pneumonia is prevalent throughout America. This theater conforms with government guidelines for health, you should too.  If you feel sick, go home and go to bed until you are well.” Posters with advice, “Sneeze into your handkerchief, don’t scatter.” And “Don’t put your fingers or pencils in your mouth.”  “Careless coughing, spitting, or sneezing spreads pneumonia and tuberculosis.”

The Black Plague of 1348 was more rudimentary. Simple plague crosses in either red or black were placed on a building that was occupied by victims of the plague, this enabled plague victims to trade while minimizing the risk of contact with the local merchant.   

In the plague of 1604, on main roads outside the city, a “vinegar stone” was the sign that you could do trading. A cross was over a small pool of water with vinegar in it for disinfection. Money was placed in the vinegar by the buyer and remove by the seller.

Things haven’t changed much.  Not if you think about it and how our modern 2020 signs have evolved.

Businesses need signs to let people know that masks are required to enter. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a sign showing all the kinds of face coverings and how they should be used. Helpful hints like “Have your mouth and nose covered.”  In bathrooms in now-open restaurants, it is required in some towns to have a sign showing exactly how to wash your hands and for how long.  
Signs with arrows to direct the flow of traffic in some establishments, and decals on the floor to show how far 6 feet really is.
We don’t have red or black crosses on buildings to show where victims of plague are and there are no vinegar stones, but for some pick up only businesses, signage that directs car or foot traffic can enable people to have contact-less pickup or delivery. 

Signs created by a Denver print company or company local to the business can also let people know that a business is still open as well as what some of the new precautions and protocols are.