Our sport has unique advantages when it comes to managing and communicating risk. Our customers are used to following gym procedures and evaluating the risks that they take when climbing. Indoor climbing gyms are well versed in educating, training, and monitoring the behavior of customers and staff in their facilities. Consider the following strategies when designing your communication plan.


  1. Increase customer awareness of the rules (old and new) they are expected to follow and give staff the power to enforce those rules.
    • Add a statement on your website explaining what new policies and procedures you are putting in place. Link to your public health authorities and to any guidance you are using to shape these policies, including this document. Please use reopen.climbingwallindustry.org.
    • Create a marketing campaign aimed at educating your customers on your expectations for their behavior - and remind them that you are open for business!
    • Inform your customers to not go to the gym if they are experiencing illness, symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in contact with a high risk individual.
  2. Use posters and signage throughout your facility, including CWA ClimbSmart! posters.
    • At your entrance, post occupancy limits and instructions for access.
    • Throughout your facility, posters should remind customers of what behavior is expected.
    • In restrooms and at hand washing or sanitizing stations, provide instructions for proper hand hygiene.
    • At entrances to areas with different occupancy limits, highlight the difference, e.g. restrooms, yoga rooms, fitness rooms.
  3. Include signage warning guests about the general risk of contracting COVID-19 in any public space.
    • Highlight your commitment to public safety, communicate what extra steps you are taking, and reiterate what you expect from your customers to help assist in your efforts.
  4. In most areas you can ask your customers about their vaccination status or for proof that they have been vaccinated or you can ask customers to comply with vaccination related policies without actively monitoring their actual status.
    • Review your local laws when creating your policy as some areas may have regulations preventing you from asking for proof.
    • If you choose to use an honor system, your staff should still be empowered to enforce any rules if a customer is not truthful about their vaccination status.


  1. Build a plan for situations related to COVID-19 and train your staff on these plans, both how to implement and communicate them. Some examples to plan for include:
    • If an employee contracts or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19
      • Consider who gets notified, what details are provided, and how this affects your facility.
    • If a customer or guest contracts or reports having COVID-19
      • Explore similar notification procedures that you would for employees and also consider the customer’s privacy and rights.
  2. Train staff on what is expected of them
    • Inform them about what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required for different situations and where it is stored.
    • Train your staff to practice good hygiene including how to correctly wear and maintain PPE.
    • Involve your staff in the development and fine tuning of your COVID-19 planning, front-line feedback is invaluable in the quickly changing pandemic environment.
  3. Train how to handle customers who do not want to comply with your new policies.
  4. Train your staff to answer questions about why you have chosen certain policies and how to talk about the cleanliness and infection risk in a climbing gym.
  5. In many instances you can inquire about your staff's vaccination status, require proof of vaccination, and even require your employees to be vaccinated before allowing them to work ( 24).
    • If you are planning on requiring your employees to get vaccinated you should consult with your legal team to ensure that you are complying with all local labor laws.
    • In most cases it is allowable to offer benefits and financial rewards for vaccinated employees as an alternative to a mandate or as an additional incentive.


  1. Consider revising your waiver/visitor agreement.
    • Consult your attorney for the best personalized advice.
  2. Consider how your new policies affect different programs or new equipment and communicate accordingly.
    • Check with your insurance broker on how these changes may affect your waiver.
  3. Consider additional warning signage; consult your attorney on the language you intend to use, if necessary.
  4. Create a policy for enforcing your new rules.
    • Have a plan in place for customers who do not have any required PPE.
    • Consider how to inform people about occupancy limits and when they can enter or exit the building.


  1. Our facilities may be uniquely positioned, when appropriate, to help local health authorities in learning more about COVID-19 and minimizing its spread since many of us are able to track attendance at a granular level.

    • Consider having a protocol to do some level of contact tracing.

    • Cooperate with the required local health authorities in the event of an outbreak. Consider helping beyond what is strictly required where possible.

  2. Have a strategy in place to effect rapid and thorough contact tracing if a case or outbreak of COVID-19 in gym has been identified.

  3. Promptly contact and cooperate with local health authorities in the event of an outbreak.

  4. Consider designating an individual as your gym’s representative to local health authorities and encouraging that person to maintain a constant dialogue of best practices and current conditions.

  5. Document your decision making and be prepared to explain why climbing gyms are not a unique risk and why you believe the policies that you have enacted are appropriate.