Long-Term Health for Sports & Entertainment Venues
After the sudden and prolonged cancellation of live sports and entertainment events, fans are finally making their way back into the stands, albeit unevenly. The sports and entertainment industry is still in a state of flux, as it's unclear how additional waves of the coronavirus will impact event schedules and capacity levels. That being said, it's time to look ahead and develop plan that will enable you to safely welcome fans, talent and employees, and continue to operate a healthy facility in the long term.
The pandemic has shifted the way people look at building cleanliness. Fans want to visit venues that take disinfection seriously. Your disinfection program will play a vital role in making athletes, performers and events staff feel comfortable. And to attract and retain employees, you'll need to demonstrate that you care about their health and safety. It's a tall order, but you have the benefit of leveraging the knowledge that others have gained throughout the pandemic. Facility managers, infectious disease experts and commercial cleaning providers have developed a cache of wisdom that you can put to use in your venue. Here are six things to consider to make your venue healthier for occupants.
Recommendations From Leading Health Experts
The foundation of any disinfection program should be based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Their guidance will help you understand which practices, chemicals and supplies are most effective in mitigating the spread of illness, which you can use to inform your cleaning and disinfection protocols. Keep in mind that as the virus evolves and experts learn more about it, their recommendations may change. While your disinfection program should be firmly established, you also need to be prepared to adapt as expert guidance changes.
Cleaning Program Visibility
With many venue occupants being concerned with safety, your cleaning program needs to be more visible than it has been in the past. Occupants will be looking for visible cues that you're taking cleanliness seriously. For example, according to a Post-UMD Poll, in March 2021, nearly two-thirds of Americans said that attending a sporting event represents a large or moderate risk. However, that's a 20% reduction compared to the number of fans who had hesitations about sporting events in May of 2020. Fans are becoming more open to attending events, and you can help encourage that openness by implementing visible disinfection protocols.
Your cleaning program can also become a key aspect of your message to potential and current employees. The labor market is already tight, and promoting the safety of your venue can help you stand out to potential candidates and give your current employees peace of mind about coming to work.
To give occupants assurance about the health of your facility, cleaning personnel should regularly disinfect high-touch points and restock hygiene supplies (such as hand sanitizer and soap) where occupants can see. Many facility managers are also using signs and table tents to advise occupants about their cleaning program and indicate which areas have been disinfected. By increasing the visibility of your cleaning program, you make your public image and your employer brand more attractive.
Providing Training for Employees
Cleaning personnel must follow precise procedures to disinfect effectively. They need to understand what makes disinfection different from the typical cleaning tasks they normally perform. Also, you'll need to train employees outside of the housekeeping staff. Ushers and parking attendants who interact with guests will need training on minimizing hand-to-hand contact and maintaining safe distances with guests and each other. They may even need to use disinfection supplies to clean their areas. Since this is a practice outside of their normal duties, they'll need to know how to use them safely and effectively.
Disinfecting Before & After an Event
To truly create a healthier venue, disinfection has to start before doors open and continue after the event is over. Your cleaning program should incorporate additional pre- and post-event measures that can help reduce the spread of infection. You can implement simple, proactive measures like propping open bathroom doors to reduce touch points. And you can also include more advanced practices, such as using electrostatic spraying to disinfect areas that are hard to reach with traditional cleaning methods.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
It's possible for COVID-19 to be transmitted through airborne droplets. While cleaning, surface disinfection, and hand hygiene are all vital aspects of operating a healthy facility, indoor air quality (IAQ) also plays a vital role. New technologies such as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology can be placed within HVAC systems to help filter out harmful particles in the air. And even if you're not ready for that level of investment, upgrading your preventive HVAC maintenance can also help improve IAQ.
Starting with a Facility Assessment
Even if your venue has already resumed operations (or if it was partially open for testing and vaccinations), creating a long-term plan for facility health is important. It's likely that occupants will continue to be concerned about safety well after the pandemic is over. Performing a facility assessment also allows you to determine which practices to incorporate in your cleaning program long-term.
You should assess where (and how frequently) to disinfect areas, where to place hand sanitizing stations, and which high-touch points can be replaced with touchless fixtures. The assessment also allows you to identify the supplies and personnel you will need to implement your disinfection program.
You may want to work with an external cleaning expert to ensure that your assessment is thorough. But even if you prefer to go it on your own, the goal should be to lay the groundwork that enables you to create an environment where fans, staff and talent feel safe to work and visit.
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