During this challenging time, US Squash is committed to supporting clubs and pros across the country and continuing to share relevant information from the Federal and State governments. Please continue to refer to and follow their guidance for employers and businesses.
More details are given below, and we will continue to provide you with more information and resources throughout this crisis as they become available. In the meantime, if there is anything you feel that US Squash can provide that would be helpful to you, please let us know here.
July 20, 2020
– Added ventilation recommendations
August 3, 2020
– Adjusted mask wearing requirement to recommend players on court wear masks
– Added recommended processes for managing an infection and a returning player
– Facility Standards for Accredited Play
In order to host a US Squash accredited event, facilities will need to meet and enforce the minimum operational standards outlined below. Note that these standards do not replace local, state or federal guidelines but should be considered supplemental.
The US Squash standards contained within this guidance apply to all squash facilities in the US in operation during the COVID-19 public health emergency until rescinded or amended by US Squash. The owner/operator of the squash facility, or another party as may be designated by the owner, shall be responsible for meeting these standards.
After reading these guidelines facilities must affirm their adherence to these standards by completing this form.
Once approved, the information supplied on the above form will be posted to the facility’s Club Locker profile and they will be marked as a US Squash COVID approved facility.
All facilities must also be a current US Squash Facility Affiliate.
This document gives US Squash’s recommendations regarding how Squash clubs (singles and doubles), once reopened, can progress their play from the Phase 1 recommendations through to full club play.
These recommendations should be used to guide decisions regarding the opening of courts and progression of play and can only be used after local, or state governments have authorized squash clubs to open.
The reopening process is likely to be gradual and on a state by state basis. Each state may have additional requirements which clubs should also make sure to follow. Therefore, the opening of individual clubs, and the progression to full club play may be on different timelines based on the situation in each club’s community.
For all people, the advice remains that anyone who feels unwell should stay at home. All vulnerable individuals are advised to continue to shelter in place. Vulnerable individuals are defined as elderly individuals or anyone with underlying health conditions, including but not limited to, high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma or other autoimmune disorders, and those whose immune system is compromised by chemotherapy or immunotherapy. Furthermore, those persons who live with a vulnerable individual should be equally cautious to prevent introducing an illness into the home inadvertently.
While every precaution should be taken to ensure the health and safety of players, it should also be clear that any person entering the squash court area does so at their own risk.
By following these guidelines as well as those of local governments and health agencies, facilities and players should be able to make informed decisions as to when and how play can progress in their facility.
The information in this document is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, are provided for general informational purposes only. The knowledge and circumstances around COVID-19 are changing constantly and, as such, US Squash makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information. Further, you should seek advice from medical professionals and/or public health officials if you have specific questions about the return to squash play at your club.
Club Play Roadmap
The road to club play is likely to be a phased process starting from solo play to gradually increasing the circle of trusted players until full club play is reached. At this time clubs will probably limit play to members only, although this will likely be a local decision.
How and when the decision to progress through the phases will be made will be a local decision and will likely depend on the tolerance of the members and the health of the players.
Phase 1: Minimize contact with other players at the club
Players: Solo practice, same household
Coaches: Technique lessons, one person per ct clinics -targets/challenges, Evaluation packages, video analysis
Org Play: Create club leaderboards for skill challenges, fitness competitions, goal setting
Phase 2: 2 Trusted households, limit time in club i.e. arrive-play-leave
Players: Two per court, match play, Doubles with household
Coaches: Private lessons, clinics with 2 players per ct, same household, coaches and players grouped together, no cross over
Org Play: Limited, clinics
Phase 3: Extend to trusted groups, limit time in club i.e. arrive-play-leave
Players: Singles and doubles within trusted groups
Coaches: Group lessons (2 per court), member clinics, limited camps
Org Play: Limited, clinics, Box leagues, ladders, self-scheduled tournaments coaches and players grouped together, no cross over
Phase 4: Full Club play (reduced occupancy in club)
Players: Full member play
Coaches: Group lessons, member clinics, camps
Org Play: Add In club leagues, Round Robins, Fun tournaments.
- Club owners should check liability insurance to understand their situation with respect to communicable diseases.
- All staff working within the squash area should be aware of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Local, State, and Federal guidelines for social distancing for reopening all facilities and these should be checked daily as they may change.
- Any Standard Operating Procedures should be updated with respect to COVID-19. Staff should be made aware of how different situations should be managed and they should be aware of the role they take within the squash area to ensure player/member compliance.
- All staff should be screened for temperature every day. They should wear facemasks at all times.
- A member of staff should be appointed as the COVID-19 point of contact to address member/player concerns.
- Members should be notified of any actions taken regarding COVID-19 within the squash area.
- Signage regarding required member/player protocol expectations should be posted around the facility
- Facilities are recommended to check their HVAC system and ensure that filters are to MERV 13 standard or better.
- Air flow and exchange is proven to be very important to disperse viral load in an area. Facilities should therefore check the air exchange. HVAC should be on 24 hours and air from outside should be pumped through the system.
- If necessary portable HEPA filters (or similar) should be used to increase filtration and improve air flow.
- Air exchange rate should be 2 to 6 depending on the size of the room. The smaller the room the higher the rate.
- Windows and doors should also remain open where possible to help air flow.
- Please refer to the following for more detailed information.
- Currently, there are no testing requirements issued by the Federal Government. However, clubs should make sure they adhere to any State or local guidelines if there are any.
- People who enter the buildings should have their temperature read using a Non-contact infrared thermometer. Anyone reading 100.5oor higher should not be permitted into facility.
- To conform to social distancing requirements clubs should consider restricting entry. Members and players only should be allowed on to the courts. No extra guests or other family members should be admitted.
- Every person in the facility should always wear a facemask off court.
- Players on court are recommended to wear facemasks. Players are required to wear facemasks for accredited play.
- Facilities should make sure they adhere to any local guidelines regarding the maximum number of people allowed to gather at any time.
- A daily log should be maintained by a designated staff member that lists all players/staff that attended the facility at what time to help with potential contact tracing.
- Clubs should consider increasing court intervals to allow players to finish and leave the area before the next set of players arrive and to allow for a 15-minute court cleaning interval after each court booking.
- Players should not linger outside the court before or after a match or practice session.
- Furniture should be removed from lounge areas to discourage individuals from lounging in the facility.
- Water Coolers and cups/cup holders should be removed from the facility.
- Players should not shower at the facility. They should come prepared to play and then leave. On arrival at home they should immediately put their athletic clothes in to wash and take their shower. Bathrooms however should remain available for handwashing before and after play and toilet access with concomitant handwashing.
- Clubs should consider erecting a plastic or perspex screen at the reception desk or pro shop to protect administrative staff if applicable.
- Hand sanitizer should be available behind each court.
- Players should sanitize their hands on entry to the squash area and after they play.
- Every person in the facility should wear a facemask at all times. (Except for players on court) All staff should also wear gloves.
- Back glass, side walls, doorknobs, flat surfaces, permanent fixtures including water fountains, reception desks etc. should be cleaned with EPA-registered disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2between sessions by designated staff.
- A touch point audit should be created to log when the last cleaning took place.
- Towels should not be made available. Players should bring their own if necessary.
- Cleaning staff should always wear gloves and facemasks.
Types of Play
Throughout the transition to Full Club play the following protocols should be observed
- All court reservations should be made by email or online. No in-person bookings should be allowed.
- An area for players bags should be designated and all players should keep all their items in their bags. This area should be sanitized between sessions by a designated staff member.
- Practice with a ball machine is allowed.
- Players working out individually should bring their own ball and leave with it.
- Players should bring extra shirts if they tend to perspire during squash play and should change shirts periodically during a hitting session to avoid excess perspiration on the court
- Players should avoid touching their face and eyes during the session. If glasses need to be cleaned, then a clean towel brought by the player should be used and kept off court to wipe them off.
- Players are recommended to wear a facemask on court.
The CDC cautions that people engaged in high intensity activities may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to tolerate a mask people may not be able to return to play safely at this time. If you exhibit any unusual symptoms such as feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or developing shortness of breath you should stop immediately. Any player with an underlying cardiac or respiratory condition should discuss returning to play with their primary care provider. Any player who has anyone in the home with underlying health problems is cautioned against playing at this time.
- No demo rackets or used squash balls should be made available.
- No person should be allowed in the pro shop area to prevent them from touching any items.
- Any pro shop items should be removed from the squash area and remain in a designated pro shop area.
Process for cases of infection
The recommended course of action in the case of an infection is based on CDC guidelines and current best available data whilst adhering to local health guidelines is:
- Facility should close and local or state health officials should be notified
- Facility should be deep cleaned
- Any staff, players, coaches etc. who had direct contact with the infected player should be notified in order to quarantine
- Any direct contacts who remain without symptoms 14 days after contact may return to play.
- Any direct contacts who develop symptoms should notify their primary care doctor and should be tested.
- Facilities should follow local health guidelines regarding re-opening
When can an infected person come back to play?
Based on the American College of Cardiology Sports and Exercise Council, the current recommendation is that players who are diagnosed and/or treated for COVID should remain asymptomatic (no symptoms, no fevers) for 2 weeks before returning to play and undergo a physical examination by their primary care provider to assess for cardiac conditions such as myositis.
For a pdf of the full document please click here
Atlanta Community Squash have shared how they have set up their facility to adhere to the social distancing and sanitisation requirements. The information includes photos so you can see how this has been achieved.
Facility Set up – please click here for a pdf
Facility Waivers and Signs – please click here for a word document
LIABILITY RISKS – Courtesy of The Aspen Insitiute – Project Play
For sample liability waivers please click here
Steven Bank, UCLA School of Law: “This is a global pandemic, but it is a regional or local decision about return to play. Community norms are an issue. What might work at some places might not work at others, and I don’t just mean because of regional spread (of the virus). I also mean because of the physical conditions of your facility and the physical condition of people coming to your facility. That doesn’t mean you can practice what I call legal herd immunity. If everybody is just opening up and not exercising any caution, that does not mean you’re free of risk. It means you’ve increased your risk.”
Bank: “The closest examples we have of (legal precedent) in liability issues involving infections happened with the spread of MRSA at facilities. In those cases, courts were most likely to impose a duty of liability when the facility owners or the sponsor of the activity knew or should have known there was an infection. If we translate it to COVID-19, you need to have protocols in place and you need to be particularly concerned about people who come in with any known conditions and who have issues that start when they’re at your facility.”
Bank: “The biggest thing you need to show that you have exercised reasonable care is you have developed enforced protocol. Some of the protocols in some national sports organizations imply that players need to be the ones to sanitize or have social distancing among 8-year-olds. That’s going to be really difficult to enforce. If that’s what you’re relying on for reasonable care, you’re probably not going to meet the standard.”
Bank: “Most (youth sports organization) waivers are probably ineffective. They’re combined with the registration forms as general liability as part of a registration process for your sport. They probably need to be separated and you probably need to have separate information that informs people of the risks and specifically goes through the kinds of things they are waiving. If you think about comparisons, it’s like concussion sheets. When we have concussion waivers, there are large fact sheets you need to get people to acknowledge.”
For slides click here
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. This can be done through modification heating, ventilation and HVAC operations. Evidence suggests that indoor air that has no movement is the most hazardous.
The following modifications to building HVAC system operation should therefore be considered:
- Increase outdoor air ventilation (disable demand-controlled ventilation and open out- door air dampers to 100% as indoor and outdoor conditions permit).
- If the facility has windows that open, open all of them as much as possible.
- Improve central air and other HVAC filtration to MERV-13 (ASHRAE 2017b) or the highest level achievable.
- Keep systems running longer hours (24/7 if possible).
- Add portable room air cleaners with HEPA or high-MERV filters with due consideration to the clean air delivery rate (AHAM 2015).
- Add duct- or air-handling-unit-mounted, upper room, and/or portable UVGI devices in connection to in-room fans in high-density spaces such as waiting rooms, prisons, and shelters.
- Maintain temperature and humidity as applicable to the infectious aerosol of concern. (40%-60% humidity recommended)
- Bypass energy recovery ventilation systems that leak potentially contaminated exhaust air back into the outdoor air supply.
- Design and build inherent capabilities to respond to emerging threats and plan and practice for them. (Evidence Level B)
More detailed information can be found here.
For recommendations regarding cleaning materials to use at your facility please take a look at those posted by Life Fitness by clicking here.
Electrostatic disinfecting is a way of quickly and evenly coating a surface with a disinfecting solution. This is done by using an electrostatic applicator that gives a negative charge to the disinfecting solution as it exits the nozzle.
The kill time from electrostatic spraying is about two minutes for bacteria and under two minutes for viruses. Best of all, no wiping is required with electrostatic spraying as it is with other procedures, and it’s safe for all surfaces including electronic equipment.
Electrostatic spray technology can be tailored to meet facilities’ needs. Some facilities choose to use electrostatic sprayers as a substitute for manual cleaning and disinfecting methods like wipes and trigger sprays, while others use the technology as an additional step to augment standard cleaning and ensure comprehensive surface coverage.
What sprayer system styles are available?
There are several electrostatic sprayer options currently on the market so you can find one best suited for your facilities’ individual needs. Be sure to evaluate them for reliability, safety, and ease of use before purchasing.
Sprayer systems are available in several designs, such as rolling cart systems, handheld sprayers, and backpack sprayers. Handheld and backpack models offer operators flexibility but can be heavy when filled with liquid. Some sprayers use battery power to impart a charge on liquids, while others use a cord to draw power from a standard outlet plug. Although cords can pose an additional challenge, they provide consistent power and droplet charging, which results in better system performance. Batteries simply aren’t powerful enough to generate a consistent, reliable charge to deliver the electrostatic performance needed to cover surfaces completely and evenly every time you spray.
There are a variety of electrostatic sprayers available at different costs – you can find them on Amazon or just google electrostatic sprayer.
For all the recommendations below, YouTube is recommended. YouTube live streams are free and viewable from virtually all devices. Live streams are automatically recorded and saved in high definition with virtually unlimited capacity. Streams can be both unlisted or private depending on what’s best for you and your students. To get started on any of the solutions below, a YouTube channel will need to be set up for streaming. Instructions can be found here.
Stream Using a Laptop
This is probably the easiest way to get going. A laptop with a web cam, a broadband ethernet connection, and a YouTube account are required. Log into YouTube and select Go Live from the top right of the page. Full instructions can be found here.
To make the session private, there are two options in the privacy settings that can be used. The first and recommended option is “Unlisted.” This setting hides the video from anyone who doesn’t have the link. The link can be emailed or texted ahead of time to customers. This same link will host the recording of the session. The other option is “Private.” While more secure, this option requires person watching to be logged into their own YouTube account and access needs to be established ahead of time. To improve this setup, add a microphone and/or a higher quality external webcam. There are many webcam options available for purchase online that capture video at higher resolutions and frame rates, but be warned, quarantine demand has created a backorder of many webcam models right now.
Stream Using a Mevo Plus
This is a slightly more expensive solution, but very elegant and easy to use. Check out the Mevo here. A Mevo is a high-quality camera that can be fitted to standard tripods or suction cup mounts. There are two versions that can be purchased. The Mevo Plus is recommended. It has a few more options and a lens that can do a 150-degree wide angle. This wide angle might be crucial depending on how much room there is behind the court. Full instructions on how to set up the Mevo can be found here. Much of the setup can be done using their smartphone app. Again, YouTube is recommended as the platform for this device.
Stream Using a Mobile Device/Tablet
Unfortunately, YouTube’s mobile app requires a verified channel with at least 1,000 subscribers to go live using their own mobile app. If there is no channel that clears that hurdle, an app called StreamLabs is recommended instead. Set up the device like a camera; using a tripod or a suction cup/clamp mount to position it behind the court. There are many mounting options online. Create “live events” for all the day’s lessons/clinics in the YouTube account on the computer and send out the links to customers at the start of the day. Set up the tablet on a tripod, connect to the appropriate event using the StreamLabs app, then start each event by clicking the Go Live button on the computer. If this is too many steps we recommend Twitter’s Periscope app. Full info on getting started with Periscope can be found here.
Video calls using zoom or google hangouts can be a good option as well. Unlike video streaming, these options allow real-time enable interaction with the customer watching. Your computer, webcam, or mobile device can be positioned as described above. Zoom will allow recording locally to a computer or to the cloud if their paid service is used. One major drawback to these services is low video quality compared to the streaming options.
To print a pdf of the livestream options please click here
We appreciate the challenges that clubs are currently facing. While serving to protect Americans’ health, the Stay at Home directives have had a major effect on many small businesses, including squash facility owners and coaches. Many companies have needed to lay off or furlough workers. To alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus on both individuals and businesses, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27. The legislation provides economic assistance to small businesses, including:
• The Paycheck Protection Program which aims to protect payroll until June 30.
• The expanded U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program – The goal of the expansion is to offer financial support to more businesses experiencing reduced revenue due to the pandemic.
• Updated business tax provisions
For individuals, there is direct cash available through the CARES Act—most individuals earning less than $75,000 a year can receive a one-time payment of $1,200 and families may be eligible for an additional $500 per child. These payments are based on either your 2018 or 2019 tax filings. As income increases, the amount of compensation an individual may be eligible for decreases, and disappears completely for individuals making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.
The CARES Act also makes changes to unemployment benefits, increasing the assistance and broadening eligibility. States will still pay unemployment benefits to those who qualify. The amount varies by state, as does the amount of time people are allowed to claim it. However, the bill will add $600 per week from the federal government on top of the base amount a worker receives from the state. This additional provision will be available until July 31.
Importantly, particularly for many in the squash business, the CARES Act creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the end of this year specifically for self-employed individuals, freelancers and contractors who are typically unable to apply for unemployment.
For small businesses, the main features of the CARES Act are emergency grants and forgivable loans for companies with 500 or fewer employees. The bill provides $10 billion for emergency grants of up to $10,000, to provide funds for small businesses so they can cover immediate operating costs.
The $350 billion allocated for forgivable loans are issued through the Small Business Association and can provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Provided that workers stay employed through the month of June, portions of that loan are used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books, pay for rent or mortgage, or existing debt may be forgiven.
There are many other features to the CARES Act, and we encourage you to go online to check out what benefits might be available for you and your business and to apply. Useful documents include The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act and the Coronavirus: Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources.
Ensure that you look at all the assistance options that may be available—federal, state and local—to help you and your business through this unprecedented time.
Visa and Immigration Issues
We appreciate that squash coaches are largely self-employed, and many hold a U.S. visa. We recommend that any coach that has employment or visa related issues contact Adam Hamill at US Squash at firstname.lastname@example.org
DIRECT SUPPORT FROM MEMBERSHIP
With many squash pros either furloughed or out of work, and unable to benefit from the CARES act or claim unemployment benefits, it may be an option to start a program encouraging members to donate to a fund in order to help bridge the financial gap. Pros looking to pursue this option could consider using crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe to ask their membership for support during this time.
Stay Engaged with Members
Staying in touch with your members during this period is a great way to support them and keep them engaged while continuing to provide value for membership. Many clubs have started online work-outs or skills challenges, and some are also providing daily podcasts. US Squash has aggregated some of these resources here. If you would like to advertise what you are doing, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
With state and federal governments enforcing stronger lockdown conditions and asking people to stay at home, the safest way to keep in touch with your community is through virtual engagement. Here are some of the best free software on the market, along with their benefits:
• Facebook and Instagram Live – Make use of the live function on Facebook to interact with your members. This is free and easy to use, but it is more difficult to have two-way communication.
• Zoom – This allows you to have group video calls, which makes it easier for two-way communication among multiple parties. It is easy to set up and use. The basic package is free, and there are options for additional features and benefits for purchase.
• Microsoft Teams – This allows you to have group video calls which makes it easier for two-way communication. However, there is a limit to the number of persons who can be viewed on-screen at one time. There is also a free version available.
While you may not be able to get on court, it is still possible to connect with your players through this technology. Keeping them connected will allow them to feel part of the community and help with their mental well-being by providing a degree of continuity in their lives. Some ways you can engage with your membership are:
• Host live workouts that your members can join. It can be difficult to get motivated when at home, but live workouts can help people feel like they’re in it together!
• Switch your junior sessions to virtual sessions. Bring juniors together online where they can chat with each other and do a live squash workout or challenges, or a match analysis session
• Hold a referee clinic to help reinforce rules