While our industry is uncertain what returning to normal means during the COVID-19 pandemic, club owners and their staff members are preparing to safely reopen. The main concern is maintaining a clean and non-transmissive environment.

What guidelines are in place and how do you evaluate them?

Create a team to review your facility for risk management and safety concerns, and consider creating a journey map as a guide. A journey map yields a powerful, visual representation of the path people take as they move through your facility.

Identify and capture the steps from entry to exit to help your team find any gaps in the desired member experience and take appropriate corrective action. Post signs and mark walkways and floors as visual social distancing reminders. Communicate your plan to staff and members. Then conduct a pre-opening staff meeting to ensure each area of risk is addressed.

Consider these recommendations while developing your plan:

  • Provide, and require staff use of, personal protective equipment as necessary, including gloves, masks and hand sanitizer. Provide training for proper use in compliance with CDC guidelines.
  • Incorporate the latest disinfection and sanitization standards, and train your staff on effective procedures to clean and sanitize staff and customer-accessible areas to ensure employee and member safety.
  • Provide hand sanitizer dispensers at all entrances, and require staff and members to wash or sanitize hands upon entering the facility.
  • Schedule and conduct regular facility walkthroughs to ensure safe and defect-free conditions.
  • Stagger shifts and staff breaks to maintain physical distancing.
  • Screen members and staff for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms at the entrance.
  • Establish set times for high-risk members to workout.
  • Keep windows and interior doors open when possible.
  • Provide disinfectant and disposable towels, and add signage that reminds members to clean equipment after each use.
  • Consider setting workout time limits, or use a booking or reservation system.
  • Allow group fitness classes only if physical distancing compliance and the 50% capacity rule are possible.
  • Shorten classes to provide more time between them for sanitization.
  • Temporarily close all common areas, such as showers, locker rooms, swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, courts, and food or snack bars.
  • Review CDC resources on the risk of Legionnaires Disease and Legionella bacteria, its growth, harmful effects and how to prevent its spread.
  • Maintain at least six feet between each piece of exercise equipment.

It’s vital to follow the most current recommended best practices. What was reasonable and appropriate before COVID-19 may no longer apply. Review and follow recommendations from the CDC, National Institutes of Health, your state’s department of health and industry associations, and be sure to comply with federal, state and local laws.

Once stay-at-home orders end, monitor your operations continually to ensure members and staff are safe and energized to support the new normal environment.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.