18th March 2020
We are in unprecedented times and the surf industry is already feeling the impact with events postponed around the world. Our schools, clubs and coaches will undoubtably be impacted as well, the extent of which will only become apparent as the season progresses.
Surfing England is following the latest government advice, which is changing daily. The following information is based on our best interpretation of today’s advice and it’s application to surf schools and clubs. It is not intended to cover every aspect of the government’s response and we strongly recommend you continue to read the latest advice and keep watching the news for more information given the ever changing nature of the situation.
As an industry we must adapt and play our part in the nations response to the Covid-19 crisis and as your NGB we are working hard to stay abreast of the latest advice and keep communication channels open.
Guidance for Surf Clubs
We are recommending to all Surfing England clubs that events, competitions and social gatherings are now cancelled or postponed until at least the end of April.
Any small groups continuing to go surfing should ensure they follow the government advice on social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel.
Surf Coaching and Surf School Operations
The fitness and leisure sector has not yet been directed by government to close, and in many cases will retain an important role in supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of the population as we head into unprecedented times.
For surf schools and individual coaches, this means trading can continue for the time being, but it is of the utmost importance that your standard operating procedures are updated to adapt to the social distancing measures recommended by government and that you take on board the latest guidance for employers.
Coronavirus guidance for employers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
Social distancing guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults
It will be an individual decision for every school in determining how best to take on board the measures, and indeed whether to remain open. Some factors to consider:
- All staff should be aware of the general NHS advice on reducing the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Many coaches will be returning from abroad at the moment, there is specific advice for returning travellers that should be adhered to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
- Your team should all be well versed in spotting the symptoms of coronavirus and all staff briefed on your preparations, including any allowances you have in place for office functions to be delivered remotely and measures for any staff needing to self isolate. Advice for both employers and employees can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
- Operating Measures
- Customer bookings and briefings. We recommend no lessons or contact for any customers in ‘at risk’ groups and consider your policy on refunds or changes for customers having to self isolate or becoming ill, so not to encourage anyone out of self isolation.
- Provide ample hand washing and sanitising facilities for customers and staff.
- The current guidance from Public Health England is to avoid spending more than 15 minutes within 2 meters of someone. Consider your operating procedures and lesson plans to ensure you can meet this guidance. You may need to consider limiting client numbers if space is limited, or moving group activities such as waiting, changing and safety briefings to larger spaces to ensure customers are not exposed to unnecessary contact.
- Lesson delivery – use the space at the beach to ensure distancing measures are continued
- Facilities and equipment
- Take extra measures to ensure all surfaces are clean, for example implementing a cleaning regium to ensure changing spaces are cleaned after every lesson, along with other high traffic areas such as door handles, reception/booking desk etc
- There is not yet information about the spread of Covid-19 in saltwater or the testing of neoprene as a substrate for the virus. Given current research indicates 72 hours is the maximum the virus can survive outside you could consider rotating wetsuits to ensure 72 hours between uses or asking customers to bring their own wetsuits.
- It is important to stress, that any measures taken to protect customers and staff from coronavirus should not detract from your ability to safely deliver surf lessons. If you feel unable to meet the social distancing guidance and deliver safe surf lessons, you should cancel or postpone all bookings.
The Chancellor has announced a series of business support measures, the detail of which will become clear over the next few days. We will be working with local economic partnerships and councils and will share information on schemes with our accredited schools as it becomes clearer what they will look like and how to access them.
We will continue to monitor the latest advice and information from government and health authorities as the coronavirus situation continues to develop. We implore everyone in the surfing community to read the advice on prevention, isolation and social distancing and to play your part in helping the nation through these unprecedented times.
Stay strong, look after yourselves and your community.
Operations Director, Surfing England.