Guidelines for holding competition during COVID 19
A public gathering is any function or event attended by a group a people. On the 15th March 2020 NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard made an order under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of events where there would be more than 500 people in attendance. Failure to comply with this may result in a fine up to $11,000, six months imprisonment or both. There are additional penalties for each day the offence continues. This order followed a statement by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on the 13th March 2020 recommending to the public that:
As of 18th March 2020 non essential indoor gatherings are now no more than 100 people. This is because it increases exposure risk as anyone who is in contact with a confirmed case for fifteen minutes or sharing a small room for more than two hours is likely to increase the risk of transmission. This advice is always changing and will need to be adapted to what is being requested at the time by the government and Health recommendations.
Meet directors should undertake risk assessments based on the recommendations of local and public health authorities. This should be reviewed regularly throughout the planning and delivery of the event. The decision to hold, postpone or cancel the competition the following discussed should be considered and discussed with the board. It is still recommended that small sporting gatherings are still able to go ahead given that appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices should be used at all times.
Spread of COVID -19
Holding competition may increase the risk of transmission of the virus due to;
The incubation period for those who have been exposed and will develop symptoms will be 14 days. Please refer to previous fact sheet about COVID 19 for more details pertaining to incubation and symptoms.
What to consider when planning the competition/event:
The Venue: Is it going to be held indoor or outdoor as this affect the amount of people who can attend the even. If the event is to held indoors the following will need to be considered:
Duration: How long is the competition going to be held for as the amount of time people spend together will increase the risk of transmission. Consideration will also need to be made as to how people who attend will interact with one another if event is to be held indoors. Will there be a lot of movement/ interaction around the area. If this is the case it should not be for longer than 2 hours in duration. Review if it is possible to post pone to a later date if it can’t be accommodated within the two hours or cancel. Alternatively the competition manager could have 2 sessions to reduce the amount of people at the one time and amount of interaction one would have. .
Participants: Athlete entries will need to caped. It is recommended that they nominate one coach/handler to assist them on the day. Spotters and loaders, referees and other officials will also need to be nominated prior to the event. This is to keep track of how many people will be in attendance in the area to keep within the max 50 allowed. Participants who have exhibited or showing symptoms should not be allowed to attend on the day even if symptoms are resolving. It is recommended that a email goes out to those who have been recorded as attending to remind them that anyone who is displaying symptoms or has tested positive is not to attend and if they disregard the notice they will be refused entry on the day. It is also recommend that only the amount of people should be allowed in the warm up area if social distancing could be practiced.
Attendees: Consideration will need to be made as to the number of people that are attending the event. All people from athletes, spotters and loaders to officials will need to be counted in that number. A review if the event can be livestreamed will need to be discussed and determined based on available resources to the event organizers. A limit could be placed if competition managers still wish to have people in the audience however a limit will need to placed once the athlete’s, officials and others have been taken into account. Thorough consideration needs to be made if social distancing can still be achieved with the audience in attendance. It is also recommended that if audience is allowed to attend that people who are considered higher risk don’t attend such as those with co morbidities such as respiratory, cardiac and compromised immune systems. Promote that people who are sick stay away from the event. This can be done by email or social media. It is also encouraged that if people attend and become sick whilst at the event they leave and seek medical attention.
Processes: The Competitions processes need to be reviewed. This is because people are touching common items such as pens and paper when filling out attempt card and forms. These surfaces can transmit the virus from one person to another. Discussion needs to be made if there could be contactless interactions between people such as completion of forms prior to event and if attempt cards can not be handled by the persons at the table. The non handling of attempt cards can be sighted by the person recording the next attempt at the table and the person placing the next attempt depositing the card into a bag so no one at the table is handling the attempt cards. Hand sanitizer needs to be readily available for them to use at weight in and the table and hand washing when convenient is encouraged.
Catering arrangements: At some competitions there are coffee and food vendors or food maybe provided by the competition manager. At this time is recommended that people take extra precautions if they are going to supply catering at their event ensuring that adequate hand hygiene is encourage and hand sanitizer is available. Review of how the food will be served needs to be considered if they are to provide. Consider pre packaged food items such as individual sandwiches, cheese and crackers and sealed drinks are only to be provided to reduce risk of transmission.
Cleaning: Consideration will need to be given regarding the cleaning of the venue and that regular cleaning of items such as chairs, benches, racks, bar and weight plates are attended to. It needs to be identified who will clean, frequency and if they are aware of cleaning procedures. The competition manager will need to ensure that adequate hygiene products such as soap and hand sanitizer and rubbish bins are available.
Cleaning is important in reducing the transmission of the virus. This virus requires thorough cleaning followed by disinfection. The length of time the virus survives on inanimate surfaces can vary and this is dependent on factors such as environmental temperature and humidity and the amount of contaminated body fluid. General reminder that the virus is unlikely to survive long once droplets from sneezing or coughing are dried out. It is recommended that it is good to practice routine cleaning of surfaces as stated below:
The disinfectant used should be one which the manufacturer’s claims are antiviral meaning that it can kill the virus (cleaners such as chlorine based disinfectants). It should be diluted as per the manufactures instructions. Gloves and protective eye wear should be worn when preparing or handling solution. It should be prepared daily and it is for use on non porous surfaces. The sufficient amount of time that is required to kill the virus is 10 minutes contact time. The area should be cleaned with disposable paper towel or cloth and disposed in a sealable leak proof bag.
The person who is cleaning should be informed not to touch their face, especially their mouth, eyes or nose when cleaning and should wear impermeable disposable gloves, eye protection and a surgical mask when cleaning. The person cleaning should use hand sanitizer prior to wearing gloves and after removal. eye protection is advised as it also acts as a reminder for someone not to touch their face/eyes.
If a gym or venue has a cleaner a review or knowledge of their cleaning practices would be recommended.
Contingency planning: What is in place if someone at the event becomes unwell. Consideration needs to be taken into account that the area will need to be cleaned and records will need to be kept if the person is tested and confirmed. These will need to be provided to the local health authority within 4 hours if requested. This allows for adequate contact tracing and helps the health department.
Alternative arrangements or options for those who become unwell and cant attend. Development and make known a refund policy for athletes who become ill and can’t attend the event or for those who do not wish to attend due to the risk involved.
Communication: Ensure communication is prompt and accurate if events are going to be cancelled giving people adequate notice. It is recommended that they are advised why it has been cancelled and the importance of safety for everyone involved as this is the Australian Powerlifting Unions first priority.
Competition managers should consider having a nominated liaison person in their team who should establish direct links with local health authorities. This person will remain in contact with them sharing information such as risk assessments and plans.
Attendees should be made aware prior to the event being held how the APU is reducing risk and also of requirements such as having only essential people at the competition and why there is a limit of handlers/ coaches.
How to prevent the spread if competition is to go ahead:
It is important that the promotion of appropriate behavior is performed to help people reduce the risk of transmission, these include:
It is also recommend that there is hand washing guidance posters placed at handwashing facilities as a guide.
Prior to the competition being held it is important that the following is reviewed:
Important to note that at sporting events it is common for “high fives” and “handshakes” to occur and this can be a way for COVID-19 to be transmitted. It is encouraged that people are discouraged from this at this time.
Please be mindful that during this time recommendations are changing frequently so amendments will need to occur. Most people displaying symptoms such as sore throat, fever, cough or tiredness are likely to be suffering from cold symptoms or other respiratory illness but these are precautions that need to be undertaken.
Information and the latest advice should be sought from a reparable source such as a State health authority like NSW health, QLD health as it is applicable to your states and requirements. The Australian Health Department www,health.gov.au is also a reliable source. The phone number for your state or territory public heath agency can be viewed at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts
There is a national coronavirus Health information hotline if you would like to discuss something it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week the number is 1800 020 080.
If you are concerned that you have contracted the virus or showing symptoms please contact your local doctor about what you should do.
-APU Medical Board-