As the country works through the easing of coronavirus restrictions, thoughts are turning to how to manage facilities in a collective effort to keep communities safe. The consequences of the pandemic mean changes may have to take place to protect what was once taken for granted. As different sites gradually reopen, action is being taken to ensure the progress made over the last 12 months is not lost. And that extends from developing safe business practices, to managing large-scale testing programmes in schools to designing new ways to maintain the lifestyles we enjoy. Outside gyms in community parks and green spaces have been closed to the public under the most recent lockdown which was announced on January 4. But from March 29, the phased return of sports and health activities started, beginning with open air facilities.
do outdoor gyms fit into the roadmap out of lockdown?
Under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, four stages are outlined to offer a route back to a more normal life. The first step started on March 8 and included the reopening of schools, the reintroduction of visitors to care homes, and outdoor recreation and exercise with one person from another household. Under the continuation of step one, from March 29, outdoor gatherings are subject to the rule of six or can be made up of two households. In addition, the stay at home rule has ended to allow for local travel; people can take part in formally organised outdoor sports and outside sports facilities such as outdoor gyms, tennis and basketball courts and swimming pools can reopen. While some social contact rules will stay in place, it is hoped by April 12, non-essential retail, public buildings, personal care services and indoor gyms will also reopen. Self-contained accommodation can start operating again and hospitality venues can serve customers outdoors. If everything goes to plan, from May 17 there will be further easing of limits on socialising in larger numbers and it is hoped indoor entertainment and dining will be allowed. June 21 is the date the Government is working towards when it comes to the removal of social contact regulations.
Outdoor gyms post-pandemic
At Sunshine Gym we always advocate a robust health and safety regime and maintenance schedule to keep equipment in good working order. And, at least initially, these existing obligations will have to work hand-in-hand with additional processes to protect users and staff. According to Government guidance, owners and operators of outside gyms should take into account the size of their facility, the equipment and how it is organised when preparing to reopen. An appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment is recommended as a starting point for determining what actions to take and if a site can be safely reopened. The assessment should also show how the risk of potential Covid-19 transmission can be managed in a sensible way. Inspectors from enforcing authorities, such as the HSE or local councils, carry out compliance checks nationwide to ensure these steps are being taken.
While evidence shows it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors, social distancing measures should still be followed. This might mean additional signage needs to be put up at your outdoor gym to remind people of the need to remain two metres apart, or one metre with mitigations. At Sunshine Gym, our equipment is installed with 1.5-metre safety zone between kit, but it could be that some multi-user equipment should be sectioned off if it places people too close together. If gym equipment is within an enclosed area, guidance on the number of users able to access it at any one time should be issued. Could your gym operate a booking system or give users a time limit to stick to? A clearly marked one-way system is also an important consideration to make.
It is recommended that cleaning regimes take place more often to combat the risks of Covid-19. Popular pieces of equipment and high-volume touch points should be included such as gates, seating areas, exercise bars and equipment handles and bins. Again, clear and informative signage can help to support these efforts such as encouraging users to bring hand sanitiser gel to apply before they start their workout as well as towels and wipes to clean down equipment after use. Appropriate waste management facilities should also be put in place for the disposal of face coverings and other PPE.
Sunshine Gym support
As part of the Broxap group of companies, Sunshine Gym offers the largest range of litter and recycling bins on the market as well as a vast array of signage options, all built to the same high quality standards as our fitness equipment. Our streetscene division specialises in bollards, railings and posts which can aid in the management of queues and the flow of people around a facility. And our extensive shelters collection includes options for dining and picnic areas, encouraging gym users not to eat or drink while on the equipment. To find out how we can support the reopening of your outside gym, get in touch with our team of friendly advisers.