Lloyd Major, Co-Founder of Halo Solutions, provides some detailed advice for how stadiums can manage hygiene in the coming months
We find ourselves on the road to recovery, with a heavy burden to carry. We are doing our part in the events industry to ensure that our events and our venues are not the ones to contribute to a second wave of Covid-19 and more personal or economic tragedy. Ensuring our venues are biosecure will take thought and practice.
Cleaning regimes take on a new dynamic in the current climate. The latest government advice on cleaning in non-healthcare settings states that normal household disinfectant will reduce the risk of passing on the infection to other people. The same guidance also states that the virus risk is significantly reduced after 72 hours.
An area can be reasonably assumed safe to open, 72 hours after it was cleaned, providing no infected person has been through that area and made the clean/safe area dirty again. To complete the lifecycle, cleaning garments should also be double bagged and stored for 72 hours before disposal in the general waste. So a safe storage area should be identified in the venue and safe disrobing and disposal of items training should be given to all cleaning staff and written into the risk assessment/training records of the stadium. We would encourage that for best practice, staff sign a notice confirming they’ve received said training.
Social distancing is another key aspect of the battle against the spread. I personally don’t think it’s practical to safely queue for ingress, search, circulate end then egress from stadiums in this coronavirus context. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Queues can be designed to include two metres of social distancing, but that means the footprint of the queue may take up considerably more space than most venues have available to them, then the investment in search infrastructure and/or PPE for those closing the two metre gap to perform a hands on search or wanding. This will take more training, more cost, more time.
When people are inside the venue they need to navigate stairwells, concourses, toilets and bars whilst maintaining their distance. Or at events, the event space front of stage? It just doesn’t seem plausible for people who may well be inebriated when they arrive or become inebriated whilst in attendance and even without intoxication of alcohol, naturally as people want to enjoy themselves being in a crowd is part of that enjoyment and they will want to stand, chant, sing along, climb about each other. It’s in the fabric of the DNA of the environment.
That’s just the crowd, the workforce will also believe that PPE is for when in ‘work mode’ and so when they go into the break room or start to relax, the evidence shows PPE is removed, to socialise, eat, drink and smoke. Studies have shown that in hospitals, this is where the disease spreads between staff and it’s therefore likely to happen in other venues and settings as they start to re-open.
Social distancing, as it turns out, is a very personal thing and when peoples separate values clash, it can become a source of tension, which left un-checked, can lead to disorder. Which leads me to the final point, egress.
Whether naturally, under ejection or under evacuation visitors will need to egress the venue. All these things are reasonably foreseeable and so a plan is required but how can a response team wearing full PPE and grabbing hold of flailing limbs be expected to keep that PPE on and not cause more injury? I’m not saying it’s hopeless, I’m saying that there is a dichotomy between those who advocate ’track and trace’ and therefore PPE and all the infrastructure required and those who advocate for ‘Mass testing.’ I firmly fall into the latter and believe it’s much safer, much more cost efficient, much more practical and overall more enjoyable to have everyone in the venue, workforce and public alike, tested in advance and or during that ingress phase where possible. This will need the provision of tests that provide results within 15 to 45 minutes and/or the current testing regime uplifting to include a health passport.
So, perhaps using that 72 hour window, season ticket holders or festival goers can report to testing stations, undergo a test and they can get a health passport which should show whether they’ve got it now, have never had it or have had it and now have anti-bodies. A simple red, amber and green status. The best way to sustain and communicate that these tests have been done so the result becomes something tangible, something useful, that you can scan at a gate without divulging any of your sensitive data is with the vehicle of a Health Passport. This is the key enabler to get life returning to where we need it to be for the safe and widespread return of the public to event and venues alike. These tests do exist, these passports exist, the technology is there and altogether its roughly £15 per head for the test and the passport, endorsed by the National Institute for Care Excellence.
Re-establishing trust and building confidence
This final point also strikes to the core of re-establishing trust and building in the confidence for the workforce and public to return to these venues and events. Visitors are going to want to know, for certain, that venues are clean. Our Safety Officers in Britain are amongst the best, most highly trained and highly respected Safety Officers in the world. Our safety guidelines and institutions like the SGSA and what it produces are amongst our best exports. A lot of countries follow UK legislation and guidance. So it’s no surprise that we expect the highest of standards and hold people to account in this threat rich, litigious environment.
I would put forwards that if your foundations are paper forms, spreadsheets and WhatsApp groups, you’re on an outdated foundation of sand. Those who have moved to digitised, integrated systems will have the images and independently time and date stamped logs to produce when called upon, compared to everyone else’s fallible handwritten or typed up notes. I was told recently “there is always a place for a pen and paper in the control room” and I guess, there always will be, but the point is, that shouldn’t be the starting point anymore. We should start with things being as safe as possible and then build the event on top.
Digitised, integrated systems within the control room will allow the key decision makers space to function, literally, as they no longer all have to be in the same room, the evidence and imagery to support that evidence that the stadium is safe to open, decisions were made in a timely manner with the best rationale, recorded at the time, in the perfect audit trail, shared and stored and available to the people who need it, when they need it, in real-time or in an inquiry.
Bio-security in stadiums is more than just the obvious, it’s the latest link in a long chain of ‘outbreaks/incidents/disasters/tragedies’ that’s pulling the need for wholesale, systemic change.