Hygiene is one of the strongest measures we can undertake to reduce the risk of transmission and make stakeholders feel comfortable coming to our facilities. (9,10) By definition, hygiene is about our behavior, practices, and attitudes. The personal choices our individual climbers make are the first line of defense when it comes to reducing the risk present in our facilities. Therefore, communication is especially critical. Your local authorities may have specific guidance to follow, but at a minimum consider the following principles.
- Customers who are not fully vaccinated should respect physical distancing guidelines and allow for appropriate space between other climbers, belayers, and staff.
- If your local relevant guidelines allow and you have a mix of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated customers, you can allow fully vaccinated customers to be closer than 6 feet or 2m to other customers(23).
- Customers should wash or sanitize their hands frequently (18).
- Customers should not touch their face while climbing or without first washing or sanitizing their hands.
- Customers should practice proper respiratory etiquette and not cough or sneeze without appropriately covering their nose and mouth.
- If a customer is sick, experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or has recently been in contact with a high-risk individual they should not go to the gym.
- Customers should limit the number of partners that they climb with to either household members or a select few partners.
- Face masks should be used in a gym by anyone who is not fully vaccinated.
- If your local relevant public authority requires face masks make sure that you, your staff, and your customers are following those recommendations.
- If your local relevant guidelines allow and you have a mix of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated customers you can allow fully vaccinated customers to remove masks regardless of mask wearing by unvaccinated customers(23).
- If customers are choosing to wear a face mask in an area where they are not recommended do not require them to remove their mask.
- If you feel that masks should not be a requirement in your gym make sure that your request is compliant with any local laws.
- Provide all required PPE to your staff. Your local occupational safety and health organization should have guidelines on the required PPE for staff in your area. This is often divided by staff activity or risk exposure (13).
Ensure that employees know how to access, don, and doff any required PPE.
If some employees want to take additional protective measures, consider their requests as long as they are in compliance with any local regulations.
Make sure that employees are wearing any required PPE when required to do so.
Employees should maintain appropriate physical distance from customers.
Employees should wash or sanitize their hands frequently.
Face masks should be worn by employees where required, and proper donning and doffing procedures should be followed.
Fully vaccinated employees may be allowed to remove masks where allowed
Asking for proof of a vaccination or requiring a vaccination may be acceptable in some areas ( 24).
When developing the general practices of your facility review the layout of your facility, your training and communication procedures, the PPE provided to your staff, and the activities and behaviors specific to your gym that affect your customers. Consider the following strategies:
- Provide adequate sanitizing or hand cleaning solutions to your customers (19).
- Establish clear guidelines about when and how you will clean your gym and what you expect your customers to take responsibility for.
- Communicate your procedures and any expectations to your staff and customers.
- Make your efforts visible, be seen cleaning
- As required by your local health authorities, and laws, consider adding screens in front of your front desks, rental counters, and other high-contact areas.
- Attempt to reduce the number of physical payments your staff must process by encouraging pre-payments and contactless payments.
- You may consider health screening or temperature checks. Temperature checks are not necessarily reliable in nature (20) but some areas may require them and you should follow all rules where applicable.
- If you are using a reservation system you can ask these questions when customers make their online booking.
- If you need to ask these questions on-site consider your customers’ privacy ad how you will handle denying service to individuals.
- Empower your staff to refuse service or remove customers who do not follow your desired hygiene protocols or display known symptoms.
- Have a clear plan about how to deny service to or have difficult conversations with individuals who do not adhere to your policies.
- If someone is displaying symptoms when attempting to access your facility, ensure that your staff knows how to handle customers and where those people will be moved to or wait while the situation is handled.