This document provides guidance for Indoor Recreational Activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean. This information is based on currently available scientific evidence and is subject to change as new information becomes available. It should be read in conjunction with relevant government legislation, regulations, and policies.
Definition of Indoor Recreational Activities
- In the context of these guidelines, the indoor activities being referred to include those carried out at:
- Gyms and Fitness centres;
- Indoor pools;
- Studios (dance, yoga, etc.) and dojos;
- Indoor sporting arenas, complexes, or facilities. This includes facilities with courts for playing basketball, netball, volleyball, futsal, cricket, badminton, table tennis, squash, racquetball, cycling, and indoor track and field.
This guidance serves as a minimum standard that should be adhered to by the relevant parties. At all times individuals are to adhere to the current Covid-19 Regulations and the National Policy on the Use of Antigen-Detecting Rapid Diagnostic Tests (“Lateral Flow Tests”).
This guidance covers recommended measures for protection during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
You can also download the full guidance here:
What are the potential COVID-19 risks?
Indoor activities, in general, carry a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19 than outdoor activities as the reduced airflow indoors increases the chance of encountering a large concentration of the virus. Some indoor activities have the potential to bring people together in close proximity (including distances of less than 6ft) for an extended duration of time, resulting in a greater risk for the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Physical or close-contact sports like basketball, football, or karate are also high-risk activities.
While the research on transmission is ongoing, there is currently no evidence indicating that
COVID-19 is spread through perspiration. According to the WHO, the virus is spread mainly through droplets from the mouth and nose which can be inhaled by others or which may land on surfaces that persons may touch and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. Emerging evidence also supports airborne transmission under certain conditions. Some of the potential risks which this poses to persons at an indoor facility include:
- High energy activities result in laboured breathing.
- High-touch surfaces such as exercise machines, training equipment, flooring and mats are utilised by many.
- Potential for crowding.
- Activities involving close physical contact with others.
- High proportion of at-risk and vulnerable persons in some settings (e.g. physiotherapy and rehabilitation services).
How can these risks be reduced?
The following sections provide suggested measures that indoor facility operators and persons using these facilities can use to reduce the transmission of COVID-19:
1. Measures to be implemented by management
Requirements for entry into the premises/facilities
- Entry should be denied to anyone exhibiting symptoms of flu-like illness or living with someone that is showing symptoms or anyone that has been in contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- All persons prior to entering the facility, should have their temperature taken. Any person with a temperature of 38°C/100.4 F or over should not be allowed to enter.
- A contactless infrared thermometer should be used.
- Persons conducting temperature checks should wear an appropriate mask (see Appendix A for infographics on masks).
- Persons reporting that they are on fever suppressing medicine should be denied entry.
- Persons should wear masks on entering and leaving the facility.
- Maintain accurate logs of all persons entering the facility including the details of person’s names, contact information, date, and time they were at the facility.
- Provide appropriate handwashing facilities for persons to practise hand hygiene before, during and after entering all workout areas.
- When interacting with high touch surfaces, persons should be encouraged to utilise the available hand sanitiser often.
Requirements for persons while in the facility
- Limit the length of time that persons can stay at the facility to one hour.
- Signs should be placed throughout the facility encouraging good hygiene practices and compliance with measures for reducing the spread of the virus.
- Provide information on measures to be taken by all persons who use the facility before arrival such as through emails and social media platforms.
- When possible, facilities should consider operating with doors and windows open.
- Minimise the sharing of machines during workout. When sharing is unavoidable, one piece of equipment /one machine should be used at a time and sanitised after use.
- Instructors should not encourage persons to do equipment dependent circuits unless there is enough equipment to avoid sharing.
- Persons should be required to use their own personal aids such as exercise mats, gloves, goggles, helmets, bats/rackets/sticks etc as much as possible. Personal aids provided by facilities should be cleaned and disinfected before being used by another person.
- Management should always monitor the floor to ensure that physical distances of 6 feet (2 metres) are maintained among persons. Strategies that can be adopted to encourage physical distancing include:
- Scheduling appointments to reduce the number of persons present at a time, ensuring that physical distancing measures can be observed.
- Restricting the number of persons allowed to be in the space at a time.
- Use of every other machine, such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, etc., if they cannot be placed 6 feet (2 metres) apart.
- Space out benches as much as possible.
- Put physical markers and visible cues in place (such as tape on the ground) to remind persons of the distance that needs to be maintained.
- Ensure that facility staff are monitoring and reminding patrons of physical distancing measures.
- Discourage activities that tend to lead to the congregating of persons.
- Staff should be encouraged to wear face masks, where it is safe to do so.
- Limit the length of time spent in the facility by encouraging patrons to dress for their activities before arriving and undress after leaving the facility, especially where physical distancing cannot be maintained or is not feasible in changing rooms.
Promotion of hygiene behaviours
- Provide handwashing facilities, equipped with liquid soap and water, for persons to practise hand hygiene before, during and after entering the facilities.
- Provide hand sanitisers containing 60-80% alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol) for use throughout the facilities.
- When interacting with high touch surfaces, persons should be encouraged to utilize the provided hand sanitisers.
- Facilities should be outfitted with hand sanitiser stations at the entrance to courts, studios and throughout the weight and exercise rooms.
Cleaning and Sanitisation ProceduresThe COVID-19 virus is removed by routine cleaning and easily killed by standard sanitising and disinfecting agents. Routine cleaning and sanitising/disinfection techniques should be followed. Always follow the instructions on the products to know how to dilute and apply cleaning agents to different surfaces and maintain the appropriate disinfection concentration and contact time.
- All high-touch surfaces are to be cleaned and disinfected regularly and as soon as they are soiled. Some common high touch surface areas include:
- In activities areas: Exercise machines, weights, barbells, benches, seats, handles, pulls, mats, balls, remote controls.
- In common areas: Handles and knobs: doors, desks, closets, drawers, refrigerators, Elevator buttons, light switches, countertops, tabletops, visitor screens, sinks, faucets.
- In administrative areas: telephones, computers (monitor, keyboard, mouse)
- When unavoidable, shared equipment and machines should be wiped clean and sanitised at regular intervals.
- Policies and procedures should be implemented requiring persons who utilise shared equipment to clean items immediately after use with sanitizing products provided by the facility.
- Facility staff should conduct deeper cleaning and sanitising operations throughout the day and throughout the facility on all surfaces, in weight rooms, exercise rooms, gymnasiums, locker rooms and restroom facilities.
- Develop a cleaning schedule to facilitate cleaning of equipment and facilities between shifts and activities.
- Thorough cleaning sessions would have to be carried out by the appropriate members of staff before and after each period.
- Workout mats, dirty linen, towels, laundry, and any other porous items should be collected and disinfected in such a way as to avoid any contact with persons or contamination of the environment.
- These porous surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected with chemicals designed for those surfaces. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and effective use of those chemicals.
Modification of Activities
- Management could consider utilising an appointment/booking system, whereby a specific number of persons may reserve their hour-long slot at specific pre-assigned intervals at the facility.
- Sports courts or workout rooms should be made available by appointment only and thoroughly cleaned and sanitised by facility staff before and after each use.
- Spectating of activities should only be allowed in circumstances where it is possible for spectators and participants to maintain the appropriate physical distance and where additional preventive measures, such as wearing of face covering and practising of hygiene measures can be enforced.
- Provide portable hydration stations, or coolers where possible, instead of shared drinking fountains.
2. Measures to be taken by patrons and facility users
Patrons and other facility users should:
- Stay at home if feeling unwell.
- Make reservations as needed or call ahead to confirm that they can attend the facility.
- Follow hand hygiene practices when entering, while at and upon leaving the facility.
- Maintain 6 feet (2 metres) between themselves and others.
- Substitute players in team activities should also be required to maintain this distance when not actively playing.
- Provide and use their own activity aids such as exercise mats, gloves, goggles, helmets, bats/rackets/sticks. Sharing should be strongly discouraged.
- Disinfect all shared machinery before and after use.
- Use a personal, non-shared towel when using shared equipment. For activities that may generate a high volume of sweat, patrons should consider having more than one towel, so they can be changed after they become saturated.
- Use one piece of equipment/machine at a time during a workout, where possible.
- Bring their own water/beverages for consumption.
- Follow appropriate coughing or sneezing etiquette
What to do if a patron or member of staff becomes ill at your facility and is suspected of having COVID-19?
Remain calm and assess the situation. Not every person that sneezes, coughs, or is ill has
COVID-19. There are many reasons a person may be ill, and a person can sneeze or cough without being ill. However, since you have no means of verifying what a person may or may not have, caution must be taken in all circumstances. There are several actions and precautions you can take to protect yourself:
- Maintain at least 6 feet (2 metres) distance from the sick person as this is generally sufficient distance to avoid being coughed on or sneezed on by a sick person.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks and gloves.
- Provide the person with a mask and ensure they wear it.
- Ill persons should not stay at the facility or should be isolated in an available room if they are unable t leave immediately.
- It is NOT recommended to isolate ill persons in bathrooms or other high traffic areas, because transporting the ill persons there could expose other patrons and staff.
- Assign a designated properly trained/instructed person to monitor the ill person until medical attention can be arranged or the person leaves. The designated person must wear an N95 Mask or higher and if available, use a disposable gown.
- Avoid unnecessary entry into the room where the ill patron or staff member is isolated. Staff who need to enter the room, must use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and maintain distance where possible.
- Soiled items must be handled with a glove, double bagged and identified as infectious material and disposed of or cleaned as appropriate.
- All rooms, facilities and equipment that were used by the ill person should be cleaned and sanitised thoroughly.
- If it is determined that a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 was at your facility, you should contact Public Health authorities and be guided accordingly.