Colder weather has brought with it an expected surge of COVID. Your staff and your members are relying on you to make decisions that will protect their health and happiness. It’s more important than ever to be prepared and informed as to how you can do this for your Health Club.
With this ever-changing climate, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the current regulations. So I’ve taken the liberty of creating a Gym Owner’s Guide to COVID — this includes vaccination requirements, how to report positive cases, resources & more.
Staff Sicknesses and Vaccinations
It can be a difficult and even awkward position for Owners and Operators to make decisions regarding employee vaccinations. Such a personal matter should not be taken lightly, though. This decision should be made at your own discretion, keeping all stakeholders in consideration.
If you are considering requiring your staff to be fully vaccinated, it’s important that you know OSHA’s qualifications for someone to be “fully vaccinated”. OSHA presently does not require someone to have a booster shot to be “fully vaccinated”. Although this may be added in the future, it’s not in current regulations.
Despite your decision on vaccination status, it’s imminent that employees will get sick. You should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. These offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide this documentation in a timely manner.
A negative test is also not accurate to determine an employee’s ability to transmit the COVID virus. Some sick employees may test positive for up to 3 months even though they are asymptomatic and incapable of actually spreading the virus. Keep in mind that employees should be asymptomatic before returning to work after 5 to 10 days of quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status.
It is likely that you’ll have to face a positive test from either your staff or members, no matter how many precautions you take. Your response to this event will have a huge impact on the potential spread of sickness to the rest of your Gym and community.
How You Can Respond to an Employee or Member’s Positive COVID Test
If someone who has recently been in your Health Club notifies you that they have tested positive for COVID-19, it’s imperative that you act quickly to notify affected parties.
You should first inform your staff members within one business day after being contacted about an individual’s positive test results.
I recommend that you inform all individuals who could have been in your gym, a training session or a group class where they may have been exposed. Be sure to include specific dates if possible. If you track when members are entering your facility or joining these classes, you may only need to reach out to these individuals.
Be sure that you don’t disclose the names or personal information of the individual(s) that made your Club aware of their positive test results. Doing so can potentially violate ADA and HIPPA regulations. These are serious violations that could result in serious consequences.
Given the uncertainty of whether or not this individual had COVID at the time that they were in the gym, I recommend that you continue by taking whatever steps you personally feel is prudent to ensure the health and well-being of your personnel, members and yourself.
Remember- Kindness and Compassion are Key
No matter your regulations, precautions and circumstances, remember to always treat these situations with kindness. No one wants to get sick. Compassionate yet responsible attitudes will allow you to treat all parties with respect in a frustrating and scary position. Your reaction to COVID related issues will also provide an accurate reflection of both you and your club’s culture.
Following these guidelines will protect your Fitness Club legally and reputationally. But sometimes things get messy and confusing. If you have any questions as to how you can best mitigate your Club’s risk or how to respond to COVID related circumstances, shoot me a message. My team and I will be more than happy to help you tackle anything that comes your way.