Friday, April 19, 2024

WSF issue guidelines on safe return to play

New Zealand celebrated a return to action with a tournament for young professionals and aspiring juniors at the Squash XL club in Auckland, while observing safety protocols

To shower or not to shower, that’s the big debate
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor

The World Squash Federation has issued a range of guidelines to help those involved in planning a safe return to play.

The recommendations are published on the WSF website. The document has been put together following close co-operation with the PSA and various national federations, some of whom are already managing a limited return to activity, including New Zealand, Australia, Italy and France. 

Among the leading figures involved in producing the documents are Dr Anne Smith, the WSF Medical Director, based in Canada, and PSA Event Director Tim Garner, based in London, England.

The three key aims highlighted by the WSF are:
1: Prepare clubs to reopen safely for non-competitive play as soon as permitted
2: Assist with the reintegration of squash coaching
3: Share useful resources and good practice from federation to federation

Clubs and federations are advised to appoint a Covid-19 contact to lead the planning of a safe reopening of squash courts and oversee an action plan. It is important this contact continually reviews government advice and literature released by key organisations.

A strict, online only court-booking system is recommended, together with hygiene protocols before, during and after playing. Clubs are advised to have a disciplinary process in place to deal with members who fail to follow the policies and place others at risk by their behaviour.

A system requiring all players and visitors to sign in and sign out should be introduced to provide a complete log of who was at the courts or in the club at any one time. This will assist with contract tracing should a member contract Covid-19.

It should not be assumed that all members will respect the guideline that they should leave the premises immediately after their game or allotted time at the courts. Quarantine will be required for any close contacts, so clubs need to know who they are.

Travel to facilities should be encouraged to be by foot, bike or car (only shared with a person from the same household). This rules out or suggests the restriction of using public transport.

Safety protocols for clubs and players to follow include arranging time slots to allow players to arrive a maximum of 15 minutes before their match and to leave 15 minutes ahead of the next available court booking.

Among the list of hygiene suggestions are the installation of a sink close to the entrance of every facility to allow players wash their hands and/or apply hand sanitizer.

Importantly, players are being told: Do NOT wipe your hands on the walls!

The WSF provides recommendations for larger clubs with salaried staffs and smaller clubs that rely on volunteers.

The one thorny issue concerns recommendations for changing room use. Clubs are told to allow only one person at a time into changing rooms or toilet areas, and to stop players from using the showers after playing or training.

This final point is sure to stir some debate, with some experts believing that unless players shower immediately after playing then they run the risk of spreading any contaminated droplets that may have been present in the club on their way home.

The full WSF recommendations are published here


READERS: To shower or not to shower? Please post your comments below.



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