The Tennis Academy takes Covid-19 very seriously, we feel responsible for the safety of every person that graces our facility and that is why we have gone above and beyond in creating our Covid-safe measures. We are so grateful to our patrons and to all our staff for stepping up and working hard to execute those procedures like champs. Because of these efforts, there has not been one case of Covid-19 transmission link to our facility.
Being forced to close our doors in mid December and layoff our staff, for the second time in less than a year, was one of the most difficult things we have had to do. We will always support efforts that keep Albertans and our patrons and staff safe. However, it is difficult to understand why people can go shopping in a mall but they can’t play tennis 70 feet apart from each other.
On Dec 1st, The Tennis Academy was able to pose similar questions directly to our MLA and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, on behalf of the entire Alberta tennis community. While we were please to have such an opportunity, these questions remain unanswered and we feel that the decision to include tennis in the current closure-orders was arbitrary.
Prior to this, The Tennis Academy worked collaboratively with other indoor clubs to compose an exemption request letter. This letter was created to pass on the knowledge that tennis is a safe sport to play during this pandemic. Tennis Alberta passed this letter on to our Provincial representatives and Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw but we have not received a response.
Also in December, The Tennis Academy was communicating with Tennis Alberta and other indoor clubs in hopes of creating a strong and collective voice that will advocate for the safe continuation of Tennis in Alberta. While there was some receptiveness to this idea from a fellow club there was no response from Tennis Alberta. We believe that time is of the essence and we need your help, without a collaborative voice our efforts will be lost in the noise. Please see The Tennis Academy's most recent letter to our Government.
As I write this, it is mid-afternoon on Jan 7th and according to the Provincial website we are due to reopen on Jan 12th. We have not received any information from any one within the Provincial Government to confirm that this remains true.
If you care to help us advocate for the safe continuation of tennis in Alberta then please contact your MLA, Minister of Health, and CMO Dr. Deena Hinshaw
: Dr. Deena Hinshaw Chief Medical Officer of Health Office of Chief Medical Officer of Health 24th Floor 10025 Jasper Ave Edmonton, AB
We need to ensure that the decision makers are armed with the information they need to make an educated decision when it comes to the risks or lack thereof in the sport of tennis.
KEY FACTS THAT SUPPORT, TENNIS IS A SAFE ACTIVITY:
- Tennis provides natural physical distancing. Our indoor Tennis courts can allow a playing area of up to1800 ft2 per player for doubles and 3600 ft2 of playing area per player for singles (per court).
- The sheer size of our facility naturally allows for excellent ventilation with air space of up to 288,000 ft3 per court (144,000 ft3 per player in singles; 72,000 ft3 per player in doubles) and new air is circulated every 30 minutes.
- Singles (2 players) and Doubles play (4 players) has also been demonstrated to be incredibly safe. With no direct COVID case transmissions in Alberta or Canada.
- Clubs have developed educational pieces including safety videos for singles and doubles play.
- The use of tennis equipment is safe. Our clubs have introduced two protocols that have proven to be extremely effective. Firstly, players bring and use their own can of ‘marked’ tennis balls. As well, clubs have introduced ‘shared ball management’ and reinforced education on frequent hand washing as a deterrent to the transmission of COVID-19. Players are sanitizing before, during and after play using hand sanitizer provided on-court to players. All equipment is sanitized after each lesson/use.
- Group lessons and instruction is safe. A certified coach providing instruction has a better chance of keeping players safe than casual play in a public court. All of our coaches are trained to keep people safe and manage groups of players from 1 - 8 players per court in a physically distanced and safe manner.
- Each club has developed employee protocols for its staff members including eliminating in-person meetings, wearing masks and other PPE, and maintaining physical distancing at all times. All front desk staff operate behind a physical barrier (sneeze guard) to limit interaction.
- Coaches wear masks at all times to minimize the transmission risk of COVID (with the exception of while hitting with a high performance player). Mask wearing protects our staff members and participants. Coaches have been trained to maximize social distancing practices and class organization in order to keep participants safe.
- Wellness Screening – Clubs are using Alberta Health Services wellness screening protocols with staff, members and program participants on a daily basis.
- Clubs have developed international travel and return to play policies, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for players who have returned to Canada and/or who were previously sick (without COVID). These policies align with the guidelines and recommendations of Alberta Health Services.
- Hand sanitizers are available at all court entrances, on-court and throughout each tennis facility.
- Clubs have limited class sizes and ensure all instruction is done in a safe manner, respecting physical distancing.
- Clubs have restricted and/or eliminated access to club restaurants, fitness areas and spectator areas. Clubs have created one-way traffic in and out of the building during and do not permit use of shower facilities.
- Clubs have invested in new cleaning products and technology. Clubs have developed rigorous cleaning protocols and have created facility touch maps for focused cleaning in high-traffic areas.
- Clubs have moved to a cashless operation. All bookings occur online or via telephone.