Back in season

Jamie Woodhall, Technical & Innovations Manager at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene, on preparing sporting venues for the return of staff and players.

While the Premier League was able to resume in mid- June behind closed doors, its stadiums were far from fully operational. Other professional sports are now looking to resume their seasons but the question about patrons in the stands in the near future remains unanswered. The industry as a whole is looking for guidance on how sporting facilities can get back to business while ensuring the safety of players, staff, stakeholders and eventually, fans.

Due to their size, footfall and scale of operation, stadiums present a challenge for managing hygiene-related issues. It’s therefore essential that those managing these sites take action, to ensure their facilities don’t serve as a host for the further spread of Coronavirus.

It will be more important than ever before that stadium managers ensure they take the right measures to keep their facilities hygienic, as well as ensuring players, operational staff and patrons all remain safe and protected.

The gradual easing of restrictions also represents a mindset shift – from reactive cleaning and disinfection, to a more planned and proactive approach to keep people safe, and enabling the country to return to a sense of normal for the long term.

The HATS model

Rentokil Specialist Hygiene’s ‘HATS’ critical appraisal survey is helping to get sports venues and stadiums back to up and running safely. When our experts survey premises to assess risks and implement solutions to ensure safety and compliance, we focus on four key areas:

• Hygiene Factors: Poor hygiene creates potential transmission routes for Coronavirus and other microbial infectious diseases and pathogens, so the first thing to do is to assess the overall cleanliness of your premises and develop a cleaning regime that is fit for purpose. This should take into account the size, use and hours of operation for the venue. It should also factor in areas


that require more frequent cleaning attention. The most common hotspots include main entrances, seating areas, washrooms, food production facilities and administrative areas.

• Atmosphere: Coronavirus can be transmitted by respiratory droplets which are expelled when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The latest advice from UK.GOV suggests that a single air change (a measure of how many times the air within a defined space is replaced) is estimated to remove 63% of airborne contaminants. After five air changes less than 1% of airborne contamination is thought to remain. This means that air quality is a vital consideration to help protect players and fans, particularly in enclosed venue sports stadiums. It's important that air conditioning units and ventilation systems are regularly cleaned and serviced, to ensure they are operating as they should. Air purifiers can help improve air quality – they should have a HEPA filter to tackle bacterial and fungal matter, and an activated carbon filter to help tackle volatile organic chemicals within indoor areas.

• Touchpoints:When reviewing a venue’s hygiene hotspots, it’s important to consider high-frequency shared touchpoints. Once identified, these should be incorporated in the cleaning regime, and hand sanitiser or surface disinfection stations should be installed at regular intervals onsite for fans, players, and staff to access easily.

• Social distancing: According to government guidance, businesses must ensure workers maintain social distancing. Wherever possible, stadium managers must assess the seating area and layout to develop plans to mitigate the risks associated with allowing members of the public to come back to venues. Common solutions include signage, retractable barriers, floor mats with guidance and reminders as well as protective screens.



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