Playing Tennis Safely: Facility and Programming Recommendations
RELATED: Playing Tennis Safely for Players
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The USTA recognizes that COVID-19 continues to affect the country in different ways and that it is possible for people to return to playing tennis both indoors and outdoors under a number of different state and local requirements and guidelines.
Because playing tennis does not require direct person-to-person contact, tennis players can enjoy the many physical and mental benefits that the sport offers while maintaining six feet of physical distancing. By following the applicable requirements in your area, and actively managing the indoor space to avoid crowds, enforcing six feet of physical distancing, masking and ventilation systems, as well as the guidelines outlined below and those included in Player Tips and Recommendations, facilities and players will be able to make informed decisions as to when and how both indoor and outdoor play tennis is permissible and can be played safely under the circumstances.
Assess Your Situation
It is the responsibility of each tennis provider, coach and facility to make an assessment based on state and local government requirements, and health authority guidelines. Stay current with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also provides links for state health departments.
- Encourage everyone to:
- Monitor their health daily, be aware of COVID-19 symptoms, and stay home if not feeling well;
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Cover mouth and nose with a mask (except when active on court);
- Maintain 6 feet physical distance from others;
- Stay home if you have been in close contact with someone who has been infected with COVID-19 and contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
- Prepare your facility in advance of opening to the public by:
- Developing a cleaning and disinfection plan (examples below);
- Obtaining a supply of disposable face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and strategically place hand sanitizer stations as well as disinfectant wipes throughout facility;
- Rearranging or removing furniture to eliminate groups congregating;
- Identifying the number of individuals permitted indoors at one time (based on percentage of permitted maximum occupancy, requirements of state and local government applicable to indoor tennis facilities, and ability to control ingress/egress and physical distancing);
- Evaluating facility ventilation system (see below);
- Preparing and displaying health and safety signage (e.g., handwashing, proper mask wearing, 6 feet physical distancing; see CDC website for examples);
- Discontinuing water fountain service unless it is touchless waters stations. Tennis providers, coaches and facilities across the country are all different and operate in different local contexts. Making an assessment of whether a safe exercise environment can be provided depends on a range of factors, which apply differently at each venue. It is the responsibility of each tennis provider, coach and facility to make that assessment based on their local environment.
- Consider implementing:
- A COVID-19 symptom screening process as a pre-entry requirement;
- A requirement to limit the number of spectators permitted indoors;
- A reduced use of indoor spaces, e.g., closing access to locker rooms and showers;
- A prohibition on all social gatherings;
- Online bookings and online payments (avoid handling cash);
- A staggered booking schedule;
- Limited food options such as prepared and prepackaged snack items.
- Administrative matters:
- Plan for increased levels of staff and volunteer absences;
- Keep your team and guests informed of the actions you are taking to provide a safe environment;
- Communicate your expectations and on-site requirements before guests arrive (e.g., wearing masks at all times, except while active on court; arriving dressed and ready to play when locker rooms are closed; bringing personal towels and bottled drinks, etc.);
- Maintain current contact information for all players, guests and staff to assist official contact tracers with contact tracing process in the event someone who works at or attended the facility was in close contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19;
- Review CDC guidance for how to manage internal contact tracing;
- Confirm that on-site restaurant, if open, follows facility guidelines and operates according to CDC, local and state guidelines and requirements; boxed food may be a preferred option.
- Doors – Always follow Fire Department and other Safety Codes:
- If possible, doors and gates inside a facility that are able to be left open, in accordance with fire and safety codes, should be propped open for pass through without touching doorknobs or handles; if not possible, place hand sanitizing stations in close proximity to the doors, as well as elevators.
- If possible, keep open and/or wrap court gates to discourage touching.
- With respect to programming, coaching and tennis equipment:
- Consistently reinforce, especially with juniors, personal hygiene and CDC health and safety recommendations;
- Limit group coaching to small groups to maintain 6 feet physical distancing (exceptions for family members and those who are living together);
- Assign teaching professionals to specific courts, dates and times to avoid overlapping exposure to multiple groups;
- Ensure that players are not handling coaching equipment;
- Confirm players have washed hands or used hand sanitizer before arriving at the court and before permitting players to pick up tennis balls;
- Ensure only the pro/coach handles tennis equipment and cleans equipment and gear (racquets, target cones, ball machines, etc.) between sessions using EPA approved cleaning and disinfecting products (see below);
- Provide teaching pros with their own marked hoppers and teaching carts (avoid sharing equipment and supplies if possible).
Consider maintaining a dedicated cleaning staff that is trained in proper safety procedures, and ensure that the cleaning staff has access to necessary equipment (including cleaning supplies and PPE) to clean, disinfect, and sanitize facilities in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidelines. Provide hand sanitizers throughout the facility.
Examples from the CDC and OSHA guidelines include:
- Clean high contact surfaces—such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, elevator buttons, stair rails bathroom fixtures and toilets—several times a day.
- Follow CDC guidelines and use EPA registered disinfectant for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when cleaning surfaces and objects.
- Define procedures and establish cleaning schedules tailored to the specific needs and challenges of cleaning, disinfecting, sanitizing, and ventilating each hot spot, common and high touch surface.
- Implement enhanced cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures after an individual becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19 and was at the facility.
- Establish procedures for cleaning personal equipment, training fixtures, and uniforms.
- Avoid sharing equipment, water bottles, coolers, ice bags, etc. If equipment must be shared, cleaning and disinfection should occur before and after each use.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Disinfectants for COVID-19
Evaluate current ventilation of indoor spaces. The following are a few examples of ventilation options, but note that this is not an exhaustive list of options. We recommend that you work directly with your local heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (and other) experts to implement measures commensurate with the size of the facility.
- If possible, secure ventilation with outdoor air and consider using filter systems.
- Determine appropriate flow direction for ceiling fans.
- Evaluate whether changes are recommended for ventilation systems (e.g., speed before and after the building usage time).
- If possible, ensure regular airing with open windows.
- Regular filter replacement and maintenance activities should be performed.
- EPA: Indoor Air and COVID-19