Governor Baker announced yesterday that we will be stepping forward again to Phase 3, Step 2. Once again, from a numbers point of view, this will not really impact us. He also announced that we will be moving to Phase 4, in late March. What definitely WILL impact us will be whatever new guidance the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. If you note, that the EOEEA actually quietly updated their guidance on February 8, you can see that here. Their update on Feb 8 was subtle and did not require us to provide a material update, but you can notice that in that guidance they suggest that participants in sportcan drop their mask to take frequent breaks when not in proximity to others. What does that mean? I would presume it means if you are 14 feet away you can drop your mask… but really it doesn’t materially alter our policy right now. What will alter it is when the EOEEA reacts to yesterday’s news from the Governor. It is possible that today, Friday, around noon when nobody is looking, the EOEEA will publish new guidance to start Monday. This has been their pattern, Baker announces a major change, and instead of announcing their change at the same time, they make the change on Friday afternoon when nobody from a local Board of Health is around to help interpret the guidance. We shall see! Of course we will update here as needed. I would anticipate that in the next few weeks, we will likely roll back mask requirements on low risk sports, such as tennis, and explicitly allow for masks to be dropped when you are more than 14 feet away from someone in the gym. As a community at this Club, I feel that 99% of the members do their best to comply with the rules and are very conscientious. We will announce and abide by whatever rules are set forth for us, as they change. Ultimately our members have been fantastic and courteous, not only to our staff but to other members. Everyone has a different level of comfort, and for the most part, our members are understanding and polite in regard to maintaining distance, wearing masks, and abiding by the rules- and we thank you!
We are no longer required to close at 9:30pm. The Fitness center and tennis courts have resumed normal operating hours, and the pool will continue to close at 9:30pm M-Th nights. We continue to ask members to be patient and please wear masks when working out at all times. We will continue to update as more guidance becomes available. Thanks!
New guidance from the State– at first glance it has no impact to us. Our occupancy capacity of the fitness center alone is 300+, and all areas of the Club well over 2000. At 25% occupancy, we will never approach capacity.
Update 12-12 : Biggest change- While working out in the gym, you must wear a mask at all times unless alone in a room.
As anticipated, Friday the EOEEA released its updated guidance for youth and adult amateur sports based on Baker’s new roll back to step 1 of Phase 3. Bottom line, not many changes for us except for 1: there is no exemption for lowering your mask in fitness any longer even if you are 14 feet away from someone. Masks should be worn at all times, unless you are alone in a space it appears. Tennis player rules remain unchanged (no mask required for singles/ball machine/privates/same family). Occupancy goes from 50% to 40%, which makes no difference to us. Basketball is still allowed as it is considered a high risk sport with intermittent physical contact. If you want to read the final regs, please see below. Any bets as to when we get rolled back to Phase 2?
Swimming pool regulations are also updated, although there are no substantial changes for us.
Fitness Center Regulations
It definitely makes it challenging when we need to analyze different sets of rules by different organizations. Once again, we are doing the best we can to balance safety while still allowing members some ability to participate in recreational activity. In the next couple of weeks we will be adding even more air safety features which will include individual lights that circulate air and have a self contained HEPA air filter and UV light.
To expand on the early day update below, as anticipated, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will weigh in on the rule changes. We can all watch the web site together: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/executive-office-of-energy-and-environmental-affairs-eea-covid-19-guidance-documents . Notice that there is a new message under recreational sports:
- Safety Standards for Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities – Phase III, Step I (Effective 12.13.20) – COMING SOON
So as anticipated, the EEA will at some point weigh in on the standards for Phase 3, Step 1. The biggest questions- will they require masks for singles tennis? Will they restrict youth sports that are more contact such as indoor soccer and basketball? All these questions and more will be answered in an incoherent and cryptic fashion as usual…surely to be changed several times in the days following the announcement. We will simply wait and adjust as required. Summer 2021 can’t come soon enough! We also want to thank all of our members for being accommodating, following the rules, and helping us stay open! We have promised full transparency with our operations, and to date, we have had zero incidents of Covid being spread at our facility. Zero. From the outset we have said that the Club will do everything we can to be safe, and we fully anticipate positive contact tracing and even possible spread of Covid at some point- statistically that is expected. But to date, we have had 6 members, about 1 every 7-10 days, report to us that they have tested positive for Covid. Each time, we have contact traced where appropriate while respecting the privacy of the individual. We have had no secondary cases of Covid period, since we took over on October 1st, and moreover since the Club reopened back in June. When you consider the sheer number of people that are able to enjoy a recreational activity and stay physically and mentally healthy, I hope we can look back at this and say it was a success. Interesting notes on the members that have tested positive. None were symptomatic while at the Club, and none had a fever. This is critical for us, if you have symptoms, please stay home! And please continue to practice social distancing while at the Club and remain 6 feet away from people.
Governor Baker has announced the Commonwealth will be rolling back to Phase 3, Step 1. We will wait for exact details, but, it will likely change things very little for us at the Club. Our occupancy load is very large, and even n normal times, we nowhere near approach out 40% limit. It appears masks must now be worn at all time in the Gym, regardless of spacing, unless you are alone in a room/studio. For tennis, we will wait and see if singles players need to now wear masks again. We will keep everyone posted.
Tennis players must have been heard. See the new guidance from the EEA. Summary- if you are playing a low risk sport (tennis) and can maintain 14 feet of distance (singles, private lesson, ball machine), you do not need to wear a mask. This is clearly what we expected (see 11-6 update below). Our new rules for WTSC tennis play will reflect this change. No mask required for singles players, ball machine use, or for a private lesson (or semi-private depending on spacing). In addition, logic would follow that a tennis court occupied by members of the same family would also be exempt from the mask requirement. All other types of play should wear masks on the court (doubles, clinics with more than 2 participants, groups). Members are certainly welcome to wear masks while playing singles which is reinforced by recent CDC guidance that wearing a mask also protects the wearer (doesn’t seem like rocket science). We would also suggest, as we have before, that lowering your mask during doubles or a clinic to catch your breath is perfectly acceptable so long as you are 14 feet away from other non-family members at the time. It is truly a shame that the people writing the rules don’t take the time to discuss the issues with those that deal with it day to day, and rules are released in haphazard fashion which results in obvious inconsistencies and multiple revisions.
After speaking with the local board of health, we have determined that our guidance below is correct, masks should be worn while playing tennis except as with other sports, they may be lowered periodically to catch your breath as needed when not near another player. Fitness center rules are still as they were for the past few months. Also, Tennis Players will be allowed to remain on the courts until 10pm. In other words, players may finish matches, lessons, etc., to 10pm, but, at 930 we will no longer allow new matches or members to enter the Club.
Reminder with the new guidance, it reinforces the fact that locker rooms (except for pool locker rooms) should not be used for changing clothes, people may use the bathrooms in the locker rooms, but should not be changing or showering. I’ve spoken to many members as well as the Board of Central Mass Tennis Association. The message I’ll continue to convey is this: the Club isn’t making any judgment on the effectiveness nor the logic behind the mandates, we are just trying to comply with mandates in order to stay open. As a necessary result, we are also trying to be as safe as possible to prevent the spread of the virus at our facility. We are installing 5 more ThinkLite Air Scrubbers this week, to be in addition to the Thinklite 4 Air Scrubbers, 1 Air Healer, 2 AirPHX, and UV lights in our ductwork. As you know, we are electrostatic spraying all surfaces each night (most places do not even own an electrostatic sprayer, we have two). If wearing masks is the key that allows us not to experience a closure this winter, then it is what we will do. We would greatly appreciate the cooperation of all members and guests to the Club. Whatever your feeling is about wearing a mask, we would not ask you to put our staff in a position to have to argue with anyone or debate the mandate. If you disagree with the mandate, you may provide feedback here: comments-about-youth-and-adult-amateur-sports-guidance. As many of you know, my partners and I took back the Club out of Boston Sports Club’s bankruptcy just over 30 days ago. We saw what happened last winter and the amount of health clubs that have closed, and want to continue to be a resource for many years (the Club has nearly been in business for 50 years now). So your cooperation and understanding in trying to navigate these tough areas is appreciated.
As contemplated below, the Office for Energy and Environmental Affairs, on Friday morning quietly released updated guidance that impacts mask wearing at the Club. From my reading of it, all tennis players need to wear masks. That really is the biggest takeaway from the update. If you want your head to hurt, you can read it for yourself here: New Mask Guidelines. Basically it changes nothing for swimming, nor anything for the general Club policies. This guideline applies to Adults as well for tennis, unless you have a medical condition. For Fitness, the new guidance “punts” and says refer to the old “sector Specific Guidelines.” So same old deal in fitness; wear masks unless you are more than 14 feet away from someone. In trying to understand this, in the Gym, you can be 14 feet away and not wear a mask, but on a tennis court playing singles, you are generally 80 feet away from someone and you have to wear a mask? I’m guessing more guidance will come out, and we can refine our policy to perhaps allow for no masks during singles at least… (LOL) but for now, this is what we get. Nice of them to release guidelines on a Friday afternoon to go into effect Saturday. Justin
Please read below for additional information. On 11-2, Governor Baker announced further executive orders. Our immediate response is that we will wait for additional guidance, however, from what we understand, there are minimal changes to our operation. The most notable change is that we will close at 930pm (because playing tennis and swimming after 930pm appears more dangerous than before 930pm to Gov. Baker) starting next week. We are NOT subject to additional restrictions of the mask mandate issued yesterday; because health clubs, including gyms, pools, tennis and sports for non-professional adults and youth, are already governed by “Sector Specific Guidance from the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,” we are not the subject of his new executive order. For those struggling to make sense, like I was while reading and re-reading the circular guidance, it appears the mask order is made to create rules for activities not already covered in the Phase 1, 2, and 3 of the re-opening rules. In other words, we already have a whole ton of rules to follow, so this rule is for other people who don’t have rules yet. If that makes sense. Again, everyone is encouraged to wear a mask at all times, but, we are still under the phase specific rules discussed in more detail below. Thanks!
- Partnership with ThinkLite Air to provide the safest air quality possible that is constantly monitored, cleaned and scrubbed of particles.
- Addition of AirPHX to the fitness center and courts 1-3.
- Electrostatic Spraying- we just purchased an electrostatic sprayer for the Club and will spray all high contact surfaces- including tennis balls- nightly, with a product certified to kill viruses as well as provide residual sanitization between sprays.
- Air circulation- Our air support structures turn over the air every 20-30 minutes with outside air constantly being injected. Our main tennis courts 1-3 and fitness center use direct fired heat with zero air recirculation during heating season, 100% outside air is injected during heating cycles. For the main building lobby, we have installed Ultraviolet Lights (‘UVC’) lights into the duct work that cleans the air as it circulates. The pool has a UV Sterilization system installed as well, so in addition to the chlorinated water, all filtered water passes through a UV chamber. Please read more in regard to our ThinkLite Air and AirPHX products and their placement throughout the Club property.
Our main goal is to provide the safest possible environment for recreation. Nothing can be 100% certain to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in public spaces, but we are making substantial investments in all areas of the Club to provide the absolute safest environment possible with documented, cutting edge, technology. We hope that if we all do our part, we can remain open through the winter.