How smaller Squash clubs can operate safely beyond COVID-19

Over the weekend, there was a 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 on improving the member safety provision on/off the Squash court.

Squash Court Health & Safety

From the debate, the discussion about the 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 businesses which could mean they limited financial 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 safer.

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 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 not impeding on the club’s 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 of 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 regulatory health & safety requirements of clubs, there could be high-cost implications for the independent Squash clubs, which do not the expertise or cash reserves to 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

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

  • Make it mandatory for 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 before and after a Squash game
  • Seek advice from the company who installed the air-conditioning on how to conduct regular checks of the air-conditioning vents to ensure are clear from outside vermin and agree on a fee for making maintaining them.
  • Instruct attendants to 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) about 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 if the owners are in doubt I would strongly suggest seeking additional advice if in doubt.

Final Thoughts

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 the 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.