Keeping your sports facilities safe

With UK citizens now entitled to unlimited exercise. This can be done either alone, with members of their household or just one other person outside of their household (with social distancing in place).

This is great news for many sports clubs that can now begin to open their doors. However, there are still many health and safety considerations to be mindful of. We’ve already published guidance on reopening your premises safely, ensuring you have adequately assessed your building and grounds and put measures in place to control risk. But what about welcoming customers back to your sports facility, and keeping them safe?

How can sports facilities implement government guidelines?

You must ensure all staff members are well-informed and trained to enforce social distancing guidelines. They must look out for any breaches and inform your customers of the new rules. Sports facilities should also put adequate signage around the site to encourage members to follow the rules. This is particularly important for entrances to main public areas (such as courts or changing facilities).

Encouraging good hygiene etiquette is also important. Place signs around your club asking people to regularly wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. You could also contact members in advance advising them to wash their hands thoroughly before they set off to your club, and to bring their own hand sanitiser with them if possible.

Communicating with members clearly is key. You should advise what you’re doing to minimise risk, and make sure your members know what is expected of them also. For example, how can members be certain they will be able to access your facility at certain times? You may have a new online booking system in place or be implementing socially distanced queues. The government recommends taking bookings and payments online to avoid contact. If this isn’t possible, look to allow contactless or card payments only.

Keep courts locked when not in use, and ensure cleaning regimes are enhanced to limit the spread of COVID-19. For example, all equipment will need to be disinfected regularly.

The most important rules for members:

  • Members must only play with people from the same household, or with just one other person from a different household (ensuring they keep 2m apart)
  • 2m social distancing must be kept at all times
  • Regular hand-washing is a must. Where possible, members should be encouraged to bring and use their own hand sanitiser
  • Food and drink must not be shared with others
  • Waste should be either taken away by the individual, or disposed of in specific bins provided
  • Where possible, members should be advised to change before entering the club
  • Members must use their own equipment
  • There must be a ban on all handshakes
  • Members must be advised not to touch any shared equipment, or the equipment of other members

Considerations for sports facilities employees

Your employees may be hesitant or anxious about returning to work. You should keep lines of communication open, and make sure your employees feel comfortable raising any issues or concerns with you.

Social distancing should be adhered to at all times. Make sure public-facing members of staff are adequately protected and provide PPE where necessary. You should also make sure hand sanitiser is available.

Other ‘behind-the-scenes’ work, such as greenkeeping, should be carried out before opening, after closing or at the quietest times.

Consider each role individually and put safety measures in place. Greenkeepers, for example, should try and use the same equipment where possible to avoid sharing. If this isn’t possible, equipment should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Take particular care of handles, controls etc.

Club-specific considerations

It may be difficult to ensure social distancing in clubhouses, changing facilities or in public toilets. Potentially allow every other cubicle/urinal/sink to be used to ensure a 2m distance between individuals.

Safety measures for golf clubs include:

  • Golfers to tee off at least 15 minutes apart. This can be implemented by having tee times for the first tee
  • Ensure hand sanitiser is available at the first hole, and at other tees throughout the game
  • Flags must remain in the hole, holes must be lined, bunker rakes must be removed and ball washers must be taken out of use to avoid golfers contaminating shared equipment
  • Seating located around the golf course must be taken out of use, using barriers or notices
  • The scorecard must be completed by the same person throughout the round

Rules for tennis or bowls clubs include:

  • Hand sanitiser should be available when entering the court or green with players encouraged to use it on the way in and way out
  • Players must use their own racquets and balls
  • Players should be advised to avoid putting touching their face as balls / bowls will be touched by other players
  • Any other person’s equipment must not be touched

For further guidance on reopening outdoor facilities, please follow government advice. If you have any queries or would like further risk management advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Club Insure team.

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Sophie Joelle

Sophie Joelle