How smaller Squash clubs can operate safely beyond COVID-19

Over the weekend, there was tweet about how the safety provision of Squash clubs will change, once the first phase of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions is no longer in place and a strong emphasis of improving the member safety provision on/off the Squash court.

Squash Court Health & Safety

From the debate, the discussion about financial impact of the pandemic on the independent Squash clubs, was something that made me think the owners of most independent Squash clubs, will need to prioritise if they operate other business it could be mean they limited finance resources to make their facility safe.

Having worked for a well-established commercial health club operator back in the early 2000s; I know from experience the cost of remedying the health & safety operations of a health club won’t be as costly as this operator – as they have plans in place to make the club more safe.

I would describe this team as the SAS, as they were so experienced and comprised one of a Director who had worked with the HSE, and another was a former barrister who handled cases for Sport England.

If this pandemic had occurred, but not to the level of total lockdown, this team were precise, there would be already lengthy discussions with General Managers on making clubs safe, thus impede on the resources.

When I worked at their health & squash club in Windsor, as Health & Safety Coordinator/Duty Manager, my daily remit each day was doing health & safety audits – with particular emphasis on ensuring the five Squash courts were up to a good health & safety standard.

This experience was beneficial, when I moved to my senior role with an independent leisure club operator and introduced a similar type health & safety management protocol for the owners, which they kept even after I left and utilised until the day they closed.

Given the hygiene factor of COVID-19 alongside with regulatory health & safety requirements of clubs, there could be high cost implications for the independent Squash clubs, who do not the expertise or cash reserves to the make the club safe.

Some venues, with both fitness and squash provision, may incur a risk of losing members, as their fitness suite provision will require social distancing.

Health & Squash Clubs London

Health & Squash Clubs

For those non-affiliated with England Squash should consider for improving member safety on & off the courts:

  • Make it mandatory members to wear Squash goggles on the court and wear surgical masks (either provide them or inform them to bring their own)
  • Place sanitizer outside the courts for members to before and after a Squash game
  • Seek advice from the company who installed the air-conditioning on how conduct regular checks of the air-conditioning vents to ensure are clear from outside vermin and agree a fee for making they maintaining them.
  • Instruct attendants clean the court windows within 5mins after the game has finished
  • Speak with the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) the ideal room temperature and a local medical
  • Should a member look unwell or sneeze on the court – check their temperature check; yes, this may not be a part of normal first aid but this could make a difference whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus.

As for England Squash affiliated Squash clubs, the governing body has measures in place, but the owners are in doubt I would strongly suggest seeking additional advice if in doubt.

In conclusion, there is no-doubt that independent Squash clubs are facing a hard challenge in making their provision safe, but they need not worry, as there is plenty of support.

With the financial implications, once the club is up to standard the COVID-19 infestation will gradually go away but safety will always be important alongside marketing, all it will mean balancing budgets and not doing things on the cheap.