Coronvirus At the time of writing, the United Kingdom has been through the national lockdown and everyone is hoping that lessons have been learnt and that going forward another nationwide lock-down will not be required. However, COVID-19 cases have been increasing again and warnings are abounding regarding a difficult winter ahead. It’s unclear what the future holds with regards this pandemic, so its best to focus on and manage the present - but how do you do that?

As of 18 July 2020, councils in England were granted powers to close down businesses to manage local outbreaks. It’s tough enough operating in the current environment, so it can be stressful for health club owners to contemplate being forced to shut down due to a local outbreak of the virus or non-compliance with guidelines.

The best defence is preparation and the implementation of a holistic solution that minimises virus transmission and provides clear data. No doubt there are gels, wipes and sprays dotted around your facility along with signs urging members to socially distance. But is this enough?

For the healthclub industry, guidelines for operating post lock-down stem from the Government as well as ukactive’s framework on Covid Secure operations.

The UK Government’s guidance, issued on 9 July 2020, is extensive. In addition to requirements on increased hygiene and sanitation, as well as social distancing once within the facility, there is a need to “manage capacity and therefore prevent overcrowding” by controlling occupancy levels within each facility, and a broad requirement to “manage contact” by communicating with members about whether its a good time to attend or not as well as what they can expect when they visit the facility. Lastly, there is an expectation that operators should know who has attended their facilities and a requirement to assist the Test and Trace efforts by the NHS through the provision of such data should this be needed. There is a specific requirement to keep attendance data for at least 21 days.

The ukactive framework is aligned with the Government’s guidance and has been written as a “how-to” guide, providing specific and practical steps to support operators in meeting the Government requirements, at a minimum. A key requirement of that framework relates to facility-wide occupancy management via a maximum capacity threshold based on property size. At the time of writing, this requirement was 100sqft per person for gym floors.

These capacities and occupancy related requirements led to the development of Covid Manager, which provides the following specific features:

  • Capacity Management - set a capacity for each of your sites based on property size and the applicable COVID-19 distancing guidelines to be enforced.
  • Dynamic Access Control - Covid Manager automatically manages access for members based on the capacity set, as well as the usual business logic that is applied in your situation. This ensures that occupancy does not go over the set maximum capacity. Once space is available inside the facility (e.g. when a member has left), the system will allow another member to enter and thereby automatically optimises occupancy of your facility.
  • Occupancy Reporting - real-time occupancy data provides you with visibility across your business. This is provided via an inbuilt dashboard that presents real-time occupancy data for each site. For customers with multiple sites, this information is conveniently laid out so you can easily track overall performance across your portfolio of sites and zone-in on particular sites of interest if needed. Notifications can be set to provide your staff with alerts when occupancy has reached certain thresholds. Also, you can easily notify your members of real-time occupancy (via your website or mobile app) allowing them to determine whether it is a good time to attend the gym or not. This is very helpful in managing footfall to your facility and avoiding any disappointment to members and reduces the need to manage queues.
  • Trace - Detailed access records available via Covid Manager allows you to comply with and support the NHS Test & Trace programme, as and when required.

Our gym and leisure facility customers have always relied on Fortx as their highly available and resilient cloud-based access control solution to automate the management of what can be very high-volume, member entry and exit events. Combining these core capabilities, with the newly developed Covid Manager features, the application developed by Fortx provides a flexible and cost-effective solution to operators’ current challenges.

Covid Manager is available today to help with the current challenges and crucially has the flexibility to continue being an effective solution regardless of what the future with COVID-19 brings.

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