As the live sports and entertainment industry finally begins to emerge from the devastation of the pandemic, managers of entertainment venues will be faced with an assortment of challenges, with safety and cleanliness top of mind for everyone involved.
Art Rodriguez, VP of Operations, Sports and Entertainment at ABM, highlighted for CleanLink five elements that managers can focus on to create and maintain a healthier venue moving forward.
1. Authoritative Guidance
The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should be the starting point for any disinfection program, stresses Rodriguez.
The challenge will be in translating that guidance into practical protocols and staying on top of the latest information. As experts learned more about COVID-19 and how it’s transmitted, the CDC, WHO, and OSHA’s recommendations have evolved, and they will likely continue to do so. Being adaptable to these changes will be key.
2. Occupant Assurance
Cleanliness and safety are top of mind for all building occupants, and it’s vital that employees feel safe coming to work and visitors feel safe entering facilities. Rodriguez notes that in March 2021, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they believe attending a sporting event represents a large or moderate risk. That represents an improvement upon earlier in the pandemic, though; it is 20 per cent less than the number of fans who had reservations about sporting events in May 2020.
As fans become more open to attending events, venue operators can help them along by implementing visible disinfection protocols, particularly focused on cleaning high-touch points and restocking hygiene supplies, as well as ensuring there is adequately clear and informative signage. Boosting confidence will be vital.
Cleaning personnel must be properly trained and educated on how cleaning for health and hygiene differs from typical cleaning tasks. Other venue personnel, such as parking attendants and ushers, will also need training on how to minimize hand-to-hand contact and maintain safe distances with guests and each other, as well as potentially on how to use disinfection supplies to clean their areas safely and effectively.
4. Pre- and Post-Event Protocols
To ensure that the facility is ready for each event, disinfection should start before fans enter the venue and continue after they leave. Incorporating additional pre- and post-event measures will help minimize the potential spread of infection. These precautions can be as simple as propping open bathroom doors to reduce touchpoints, or as advanced as using electrostatic spraying for broader disinfection.
5. It All Starts with a Facility Assessment
Even if the venue has been partially open during the pandemic to serve as a testing and vaccination site, a long-term plan for how to address facility health is still advisable. It’s best to assume that occupants’ concerns will persist well beyond the pandemic. A facility assessment will help identify which practices should become a regular part of the cleaning program, along with the supplies and personnel needed to implement them, and will go a long way to creating a healthy and safe environment that inspires confidence.