It is fair to say that we find ourselves in uncharted waters. COVID-19 is bringing a change to the UK and it is clear that lots of things are going to have to adapt in both the short and long term to help us cope.
At the Sports Club, we have been doing everything we can to keep business open as usual. However, in the last two weeks we have seen a significant escalation of events. Restrictions are being imposed by both government and our regulatory bodies that we have to accept that it is not business as usual. We now struggle with following the guidelines on non-essential travel, social distancing and avoiding pubs, restaurants and social clubs (though the precise interpretation varies).
The Club is also a place of work and guidance states that where people can, they should work from home. I know that this advice is not that relevant to our bar staff and coaches to follow but we have a duty of care to our suppliers and members as well.
We have also had regard to the social and economic effect of closing the Club when perhaps it should provide a refuge and platform on which we can continue to build.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, England Squash have been innocuous and somewhat hypocritical with their advice to cancel all their own events and coaching, but not stating that community sport should do the same.
However, given the nature of the disease and the way it is transmitted, I fail to see how handling the same equipment and sharing facilities or putting people in close proximity with others etc, constitutes the health guidance for reducing and delaying the spread of the virus. We then also have the practical requirements of constantly cleaning the Club's changing facilities and anywhere else people attend.
Without being melodramatic, these are the black and white scenarios that we are linking our decision as a Club committee to, as outlined by health experts:
1. Do nothing (let the virus spread unchecked) and 1 million people WILL die
2. Delay the spread (what the current advice is based on) and half a million people WILL die
3. Lockdown and minimise social activity (which is predicted for Friday) and we could save maybe a quarter of a million people from dying
With all this in mind, the most appropriate course of action, like most sports clubs, is to close the Club for a period of time, no less than two weeks, but probably four. A review would be required to determine when we could re-open and what measures would need to be taken to allow that to happen, cleaning etc. It may well be that four weeks from now we are still at the height of the outbreak and this all proves impractical.