COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness & Response Plan
for Reopening Ice Facilities
The Ice Sports Industry (ISI) has developed the following COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness & Response Plan for Reopening Ice Facilities based on best practices and procedures outlined by various respected sources, and in alignment with provisions set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Please note that these are practical suggestions only, and your facility should implement appropriate policies in accordance with federal, state and local regulations.
Remember to regularly monitor your state website for announcements and requirements for the reopening of your facility during this unprecedented time. Reestablishing an environment where both your employees and customers feel at ease requires a multifaceted approach.
Due to the fluidity of the current pandemic, ISI will continue to update this document as needed to reflect new directives and feedback. Please feel free to send information to be added to it to Eileen Viglione at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your arena’s Covid-19 Pandemic Preparedness & Response Plan should address the following key protocols:
- Housekeeping — Cleaning, Disinfecting and Decontamination
- Infection Prevention Measures/Hazard Control
- Identification and Isolation of Sick Persons (Employees and Customers)
- Staff Training for Implementation of Your Plan
- Communications to Your Customers
- Provision of Management to Ensure Effective Ongoing Implementation of Plan
Prior to opening, be sure to address the following action items:
- Plan (now) to have an adequate supply of soap, disinfectant, tape (to mark “safe standing spots” on floor and seating) and 60-70 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipes readily available as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — face masks and gloves (for cleaning). Safety glasses and/or face shields could possibly be needed. Note that PPE requirements will be based on your state and local regulations so check their websites (refer to “Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)” section below).
- Disinfect facility prior to staff returning to work and public entering to establish a sanitary baseline. You may want to consider hiring a professional cleaning company to do a deep clean prior to opening and periodically during your initial opening phase.
- Replace HVAC air filters or clean/disinfect.
- Set up hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility.
- Ensure restrooms are stocked with soap and paper towels.
- Implement General Disinfection Measures (outlined under “Housekeeping – Cleaning/Disinfection” below) and perform tasks routinely once open.
- Download free COVID-19 Prevention signage (refer to various links below) to display in your facility.
- Conduct “Pre-Return to Work Training” for employees virtually to discuss your Covid-19 Pandemic Preparedness & Response Plan procedures (refer to “Training Your Staff” below).
- Communicate to your customers and user groups regarding your reopening plans and what they should expect when they return to your facility (refer to “Communicating to Your Customers” below).
Here are suggested procedures to consider when addressing each of the key safety protocols listed above.
HOUSEKEEPING — CLEANING/DISINFECTING
General Disinfection Measures
For proper disinfecting, use hospital grade disinfectant or a fresh, 10 percent chlorine bleach solution. Refer to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a list of products approved to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Disposable gloves should be worn for all cleaning tasks, including garbage pick-up and disposal.
Note: Workers handling cleaning/disinfecting tasks must be trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals in accordance with the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Hazard Communication standard. Facilities must also comply with OSHA’s standards on bloodborne pathogens, including proper disposal of regulated waste and PPE.
- Common/High-Traffic Areas — Increase cleaning intervals to ensure safe environment. Disinfect lobby benches and hockey boxes between all freestyle and hockey sessions.
- “High-Touch” Objects — Disinfect doors, handles, light switches, keyboards, telephones, handrails, Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, arcade games, vending machines, faucets, restroom dispensers and water fountains (if kept on – see “Social Distancing, General Measures, below) 3 to 4 times daily; consider using a wipeable cover on electronics such as keyboards and touchscreens.
- Offices/Desks — Encourage workers to self-clean and if areas and/or desk surfaces are shared clean periodically and at day’s end.
- Concessions/Snack Area and Party/Meeting Rooms — Disinfect after each use (tabletops, chairs, counters, refrigerator, microwave).
- Player Benches/Penalty Boxes/Scoreboard Controllers — Disinfect frequently daily, in between user groups/use.
- Operations — All operational controls, equipment and tools should be disinfected following each shift and in between use, if feasible, if these items are manned and/or used by more than one worker.
- Floors and walls — Mop floor surfaces daily and disinfect frequently touched wall surfaces.
- Locker rooms — Disinfect periodically throughout the day, in between user groups (if kept open – see “Social Distancing, General Measures”).
- Discourage employees from sharing desk supplies and work areas if possible.
- Train all staff on special cleaning and disinfecting procedures, especially for frequently touched surfaces and opening/closing procedures.
- On-ice safety measures: If using music CDS, have a designated volunteer or coach assigned to play music during a skating session and wipe down the music player; prohibit use of on and off-ice harnesses for the time being; require skaters to take skate guards on the ice and store in their “kiss & cry” bags.
It’s a good idea to create a cleaning audit checklist (or modify one you already have) to help keep track of daily cleaning tasks.
Note: The WHO advises that it is safe to receive external packages as the virus does not live on surfaces long and the length of shipment time and other environmental factors should inactivate the virus. As a precautionary measure, when receiving expedited packages, your facility can choose to follow general infection prevention measures such as suggesting all workers wash hands or use hand sanitizer after opening and discarding packaging.
Deep-Cleaning Disinfection Measures
Deep-cleaning disinfection measures should only be put into place when an employee or customer in your facility has been identified as testing positive for COVID- 19 by testing. Refer to the CDC website for detailed information.
Additional cleaning and/or disinfecting information can be found on the following websites:
- Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (OSHA)
- ISSA (worldwide cleaning industry association) Tip Sheet
INFECTION PREVENTION/HAZARD CONTROL
Staff should be instructed to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day, especially at the beginning of their shift, prior to meals and after using the restroom. Alcohol-based (60 to 70 percent) hand sanitizer “stations” should be placed throughout the facility, especially at the main entrance and exit, lobby, the front desk and in hockey boxes, meeting rooms, pro shop (if applicable) and the skate rental and concessions area.
Workers and patrons should be instructed to cover their mouths and noses with their sleeves/elbow or tissues when coughing or sneezing and to avoid touching their faces.
TIP: Post signage throughout your facility as reminders of these important practices. You can download these FREE 11”x17” posters:
Social distancing is an effective method of lessening the spread of infection by simply limiting close contact among individuals (a minimum of 3 to 6 feet.). The following are recommended social distancing practices to implement in your facility:
- Require patrons to register and pre-pay online only.
- Designate a separate entryway and exit to your facility to minimize potential contact and mark these locations prominently.
- Identify one ice entrance door and a separate ice exit door.
- Eliminate all contact with others (for example, shaking hands with or embracing employees and customers).
- To ensure adherence to the 3 to 6-feet social distancing requirement, using colored tape, mark “safe standing spots” on floor, especially in areas where customers may have to wait in line.
- Ensure that all seating is 3 to 6 feet apart and benches, including player benches, are marked with tape or stickers (for example, “Sit Here”), indicating where skaters can sit.
- Keep meetings or gatherings to 10 or less people. (Your state and local regulations may dictate this when you initially open.)
- Limit chairs to no more than 10 in meeting rooms (party rooms, conference rooms, snack areas) and space 3 to 6 feet apart.
- Place signage on tables and/or walls to ensure adherence to proper social distancing.
- Establish an “On-Ice Protocol.”(For example, allot extra time in between ice slots to allow for extra cleaning and moving customers in and out of the area.)
- Consider prohibiting access to water fountains and locker rooms for the short term.
- Might be a good idea to offer prepackaged food only at your concessions and limit ordering lines to one.
- If opening under a limited capacity restriction by your state and/or local government: Sessions will need to be adjusted and will most likely have to be re-introduced back into the rink in phases. This will look different for each arena.
- For suggestions, click here.
Measures for Staff/Independent Contractors
- Ensure that office space is set up to allow for social distancing requirements. Work designs should avoid face-to-face interaction within less than 3 to 6 feet apart.
- Any interaction to exchange information or quick meetings should adhere to social distancing of 3 to 6 feet.
- Individual commuting to work is preferred (carpooling is discouraged).
- Train all staff on your social distancing guidelines via email and/or conference call before you reopen. Post reminders on signage throughout your facility.
Measures for Patrons
Skaters and or/hockey players:
- Can only be accompanied by one parent and/or guardian if possible, who must sit in designated seating in a specific area.
- Must remain a minimum of 3 to 6 feet apart from one another at all times. (See “General Measures” above.)
- Should arrive dressed to access the ice and use the locker rooms (if remain open) only for storage and putting on and taking off skates. Leave valuables at home (no locker keys available).
- Are prohibited from loitering in the lobby and facility before or after skating sessions.
Measures for Vendors/Contractors
- Casual visitation should not be allowed and meetings should take place virtually or via conference call. All business-critical visits (maintenance, servicing of equipment, etc.) should adhere to your pandemic preparedness and response plan.
You can download the following free “Social Distancing at Work” poster to display in your facility. Check your state and local health department websites for additional signage.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Face masks may be required for workers responsible for cleaning and/or disinfecting and for those with broad exposure to the public. Be sure to check your state and local regulations as they may require all workers and patrons (over a specific age) to wear them for a specific timeframe.
- Gloves are not recommended, based on CDC findings; however, they are recommended for those performing cleaning tasks, and hands should be washed following their use. Additional PPE may be required. Once again, check with your state and local regulations.
Other Infection Prevention/Hazard Controls
- Install high-efficiency air filters.
- Increase ventilation in workspaces by keeping doors and windows open.
- Though energy costs may be higher, set the dehumidifier to bring in more fresh air whenever the arena is open.
- In customer service areas, install physical barriers, such as plexiglass sneeze guards or shields or use plastic shower curtain liners and hang from ceiling.
- If possible, have employees return to work in stages or stagger work shifts to reduce the number of workers in the facility at one time.
- Prop open all doors to minimize contact (for example, all interior/exterior doors in addition to locker room, meeting room, party room and restroom doors. You may want to consider the Clean Choice Door Stop, invented by the operations and programs director of an ISI member rink.
- Remove lids from trash cans to minimize contact.
- Maintain less than 11 skaters in the locker room (if kept open) at any given time and keep entry doors open at all times (keep unlocked).
- Limit the number of individuals in the restroom at one time.
IDENTIFICATION AND ISOLATION OF SICK PERSONS
Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting your staff and customers. Consider the following steps:
- Identify a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 issues and their impact on your facility.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home and ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance.
- Encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. and develop a procedure for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Per state and local healthcare regulations, your staff may be required to “self-screen” upon entry to your facility. If necessary, you can modify the following COVID-19 Screening Checklist to suit your facility.
- Employee should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in accordance with healthcare providers and state and local health departments. Share the following fact sheet (“Prevent the Spread of COVID-19”) with your staff as it details COVID-19 symptoms and when individuals can return to work after home isolation.
- Develop policies for immediately isolating people who have signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19 while in your facility and contact your local health department immediately for next steps (closing or restricting access to your facility). Download this printable flyer (“Feeling Sick”) to display in your arena.
- If a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, contact your state and local healthcare department immediately for the appropriate guidance.
- Employees who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions.
- Identify critical job functions and positions and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training staff to ensure that essential jobs are covered if people must miss work.
- Ensure that “business critical” contractors and vendors entering your facility self-screen as well. You can modify the following screening questionnaire, print copies and hand out to visitors to complete.
TRAINING YOUR STAFF
It is crucial that employees understand the new protocols and expectations to ensure the safety of fellow workers, patrons and the community and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Prior to reopening your facility, train all staff via email and/or conference call regarding new procedures for COVID-10 response.
- Host a first-day training orientation to go over all new procedures.
- All training may be reinforced with signage in your facility.
COMMUNICATING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
- Communicate to your customers and user groups via email, social media and on your website to inform them of your reopening plan — how you will protect them (provide details on your disinfecting measures and more) and what to expect when they return to your facility. They need to feel safe upon their return, trusting that you care about their wellbeing.
- Display new customer-centric signage in your facility (handwashing, social distancing, etc.)
- Staff should be trained to give friendly reminders to customers regarding polices, especially when they are found to be in violation of safety precautions.
PROVISION OF MANAGEMENT TO ENSURE
EFFECTIVE ONGOING IMPLEMENTATION OF PLAN
As with any new process, it may take some time to get both workers and customers on board with these new procedures. Change is an ongoing process, and it will be critical to have a Covid-19 Response lead and/or team to ensure compliance and to continuously assess steps and adjust if necessary. The situation we are facing today will no doubt bring new challenges daily as we prepare to reestablish our businesses — adapting quickly will be key as well as consistent communication with customers.
This document was written and compiled by the Ice Sports Industry (ISI) based on information from the following resources: “Safe Work Playbook, an Interactive Guide for Covid-19 Pandemic Preparedness and Response” by Lear; Minnesota Covid-19 Preparedness Plan Template, the CDC and OSHA as well as input from several industry professionals.
©Ice Sports Industry (ISI) April 28, 2020. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the permission of the ISI.
Legal Disclaimer: The Ice Sports Industry (ISI) bears no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of or related to the adoption or decision to adopt practices and procedures set forth in this document.