Advice for sport and recreation facility operators
Like the flu, COVID-19 is spread from person to person by droplets of saliva. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may generate droplets containing the virus. These droplets settle on surrounding surfaces.
People may get infected by the virus if they touch those surface or objects, and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes.
That is why good hygiene practices, and regular cleaning are critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19. Below is some guidance on good hygiene, cleaning equipment and shared facilities, to ensure the virus cannot be spread in your facility.
Good hand hygiene is the best tool against spreading germs when participating in sport or active recreation. Make sure that everyone who uses the facility to participate washes their hands with soap and water and thoroughly drying them before and after each activity.
Hand washing is the preferred option for good hand hygiene. However, hand sanitiser (containing at least 60% alcohol) should be provided as an acceptable alternative, especially where there are not sufficient hand washing facilities.
To stay on top of this, you can:
- Communicate handwashing guidance to all members and visitors. The key message is that people need to wash their hands with soap and water and thoroughly drying them before and after activities.
- Put up signs in shared facilities to remind people to wash their hands.
- Make sure bathrooms are always stocked with soap and paper towels.
- Provide hand sanitiser (containing at least 60% alcohol). Consider placing it at the entrance/exit and next to any shared equipment.
While guests are not directly involved in activities, it's important that they maintain good hand hygiene while at the venue. Guests should be advised to wash their hands with soap and water and thoroughly drying them before and after visiting facilities.
Other ways to keep our hands clean and prevent germs spreading include:
- Encourage alternative greeting or end of game traditions (instead of hi-fives).
- Where possible keep your entrance and exit doors to your facility open and avoid using your hands on high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, gates, and seats.
Participants must also bring their own clean towel to dry off any sweat while being active.
All sport and physical activity must operate within public health guidelines outlined above, including personal hygiene. Spitting is an unhygienic practice and an offence under sections 3 & 4 of the Summary Offences Act 1981. Please ensure that people using your facility do not spit on any surface.
Food and drink
Participants and guests should eat at home before or after visiting the facility. They should also use their own clearly labelled water bottles which should be thoroughly cleaned before and after each use.
If the facility has its own bar or kitchen where it sells food and drink, it may possible for the operate however it must comply with the requirements for hospitality businesses. Below is the relevant requirement information for businesses to operate generally, and hospitality businesses specifically:
Encourage Participants and Guests to leave the facility after they have completed their exercise and not spend extended time in the club rooms or at the facility.
- Participants at your facility must bring their own personal equipment (towels, water bottles, etc). Water bottles should be stored separately and clearly labelled to avoid mix ups.
- Implement sanitising practices suitable for any shared equipment used at your facility. For example, for a group fitness class you may like to incorporate the cleaning of the equipment as part of the class instruction just as you would the warm up and cool down routine.
- Ensure that participants know to clean personal equipment before and after use.
- Make sure shared equipment is cleaned before and after use with disinfectant, concentrating on points of contact.
If equipment at your facility cannot be washed before and after each use, you need to implement other ways prevent germs spreading. For example:
- rotating equipment to allow a withholding period between uses could to allow the virus to die off from these surfaces.
- Rock climbers may like to use a climbing chalk that contains a sanitiser when participating.
Visitors must only be at the premise while they are participating in the activity session. It’s important that everyone showers at home, and spends minimal time using any shared services at your facility. Make sure that people do not loiter or use this time as an opportunity to catch up with friends.
Consider removing door handles, keeping gates open, or other measures to avoid high-touch surfaces becoming a nesting ground for germs.
Key cleaning tips
Please ensure the facility is regularly and thoroughly cleaned. Consider the facility and what is frequently used and touched by anyone who uses it. The virus can be spread from person to person or by touching unclean equipment or surfaces. To stop the spread, focus efforts on cleaning areas where the virus is more likely to spread.
Regular cleaning of facilities will minimise the spread of infection by reducing visitors contact with contaminated surfaces.
- Schedule regular cleaning.
- Ensure the use of suitable cleaning products.
- If using reusable cloths, these should be disinfected and then dried after use, as bacteria and viruses can still survive on damp cloths.
- Disposable gloves should be worn when cleaning and placed in the bin when finished.
Make sure to clean surfaces with a suitable cleaner and/or disinfectant and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. When choosing a suitable cleaning product, consider what the product is effective against and the length of time the product needs to be left on a surface to clean it properly.
Common internal touch points may include:
- Common pens for sign in sheet.
- Doors/door handles - look at all reasonable opportunities to remove them
- High-touch surfaces such as stairwell handrails and chairs
- Sport equipment such as weights, treadmills, sports balls, golf flags and life jackets.
The risk of transmission from playground equipment is low. As well as maintaining physical distancing:
- Participants are advised to wash and dry their hands or use hand sanitiser before and afterwards (or provide hand sanitiser for users to apply before and after using the equipment)
- Participants should be advised not to touch their face, cough and sneeze into elbow, if they have cold or flu symptoms to stay off the equipment
- The equipment should be wiped down with disinfectant as per usual protocols.
If you discover that a visitor of your facility is a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, your facility must undergo a specialist clean to ensure that any risk of the virus spreading at your facility is eliminated.
The Ministry of Health cleaning guidance is located here.
The Infection Prevention and Control nurse at the local District Health Board/public health unit can provide further guidance if required.