Our #1 priority is that our community and their families are keeping safe and well. Priority #2: to reopen and get back on court, and to do so as safely as possible. And while we can’t give you a opening date today, there are parts of New York State that are open now, and our plans for a smart, safe reopening are well underway. Here’s where we are.
The two main questions are when? and how? Let’s look at each.
When can we reopen?
No one knows yet, but fortunately we’re in the great state of New York, which has objective, transparent, and science-based guidelines. It’s awesome – reopening progress is updated every day here. Once the NYC area hits each of these seven metrics (and we’re getting close!), the city will open in two-week “phases”. Gyms are probably phase 4, but may be phase 3.
How will we reopen?
We’ve been getting inspiration and cooperation from health authorities, US Squash, and other leaders in the global squash community. We’ve taken all of their ideas and added a few of our own, and these measures will evolve as we learn more and adapt to the status of community health in NYC.
The two basic components are managing the facility and managing on court programming. The full plan is many pages long, but here are some highlights.
- Facility management will follow the best practices for hygiene, social distancing, masks, and screening. We’ll limit the number of people in the center and implement hand washing and increased sanitation (e.g. we’ll disinfect each court after every session). We’ll screen for fever and symptoms for everyone coming into the center. We’re upgrading our already massive HVAC ventilation system with additional fans and hospital-grade HEPA filters. At least for the first couple of weeks, access is to the courts only: no gym, no towels, no showers.
- On court programming will roll out in stages, and moving from stage to stage will depend on how well we all are able to adhere to the protocols, and the overall community health in NYC. Stage 1 will be for solo practice and people who already live together, and we have some innovative ways to provide lessons with John off court behind the back wall. Stage 2 will allow match play, but starting with with just one dedicated partner, then gradually expanding each player’s circle of playing partners. Stage 3 will open up match play and group activities such as clinics and round robins. At this point things will largely be back to normal, but with the improved sanitation and ventilation that will probably become the new normal.
We recognize the everyone won’t have the same comfort level for relaxing social distancing, so we’ll maintain certain hours just for solo practice and reduced player density, for those players who want or need to be extra safe.
All of this is of course a work in progress, and we’ll be updating these protocols as we learn more about the science, and get experience from other squash clubs that are already open. And we’d love to get your feedback, ideas, and suggestions.
In the meantime, we all hope you are doing your best to stay fit, healthy, and happy. Stay tuned to our Manhattan Squash Show everyday at 12 noon (on the website or our YouTube channel) and consider taking a break on MWF at 4pm to take our yoga class that we broadcast on Instagram @ManhattanSquash.