Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Tips

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Amusement, Theme, and Water Parks

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Introduction

This tip sheet is for amusement park industry employers as an overview of potential hazards in the workplace due to COVID-19 and related control measures. It can also be useful for employees and park visitors.

In all cases, guidance from local public health authorities must be followed and general COVID-19 transmission prevention practices should be implemented, as outlined in: Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19.

Consider the Risks

The risk of contracting COVID-19 increases in situations where people are working in closed spaces (with poor ventilation) and crowded places around people from outside of your immediate household. Risk is higher in settings where these factors also include activities such as close-range conversations, singing, shouting or heavy breathing.

Working at an amusement park exposes workers to many of the above situations. COVID-19 transmission during these activities depends on the types of settings, the number and characteristics of people, physical proximity, duration and type of interactions, and the effectiveness of health measures put in place.

Employers should consider the following:

  • How to protect employees? Conduct risk assessments of job tasks and implement solutions to make the workplace safer.
  • What type of setting is it? Indoor settings can accumulate viruses in the air when crowded or poorly ventilated. Outdoor settings are generally safer than indoors due to natural dilution ventilation.
  • How many people will employees interact with and how close are the physical interactions? The risk of transmission increases with close and frequent contact. Installing plexiglass in key locations or modifying job tasks to eliminated close contact can lower the risk.
  • What kind interactions will employees have? Train employees to avoid non-essential interactions with people outside their immediate household. When unable to avoid interactions, do so while keeping the greatest distance possible.
  • How long are the interactions? Evidence indicates that the person-to-person spread is more likely with prolonged contact. Train employees to keep interactions short.
  • Do employees frequently have contact with high touch surfaces or objects? If so, remove the object from service or modify them to be contactless. Otherwise, increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection.
  • How many workers are in the workplace at one time? Follow current local public health occupancy restrictions focus on keeping people physically distanced in break or lunchrooms and washrooms.
  • Are face masks required for workers in your jurisdiction? If so when and where are masks required (e.g., required until eating or drinking)? Check local public health restrictions, enforce them in your operations.
  • Are community transmission levels high? Decrease admissions or temporarily close if community transmissions are above acceptable limits or when required to by public health authorities.
  • How will you handle an outbreak at the workplace? Create a plan on how you will respond to an outbreak.

Each workplace is unique. It is important for employers to assess the risks of COVID-19 for their specific workplace and implement appropriate hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls (i.e., elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, personal protective equipment (PPE) and non-medical masks). Use a layered approach when implementing the chosen combination of hazard controls.

Consider implementing a workplace safety plan to identify and implement solutions for COVID-19 associated risks. The plan should address all identified risks, in priority order.

Elimination and Engineering Controls

Implement these controls to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The priority should be having as few people as possible in the workplace while maintaining safety protocols.

  • Implement a work from home program and make participation mandatory for employees that do not physically need to be at the park. They should work from home as often as possible.
  • Shut down high risk attractions, rides and games that cannot be made safe.
  • Provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizer dispensers (with minimum 60% alcohol content) in high traffic areas such as entrances, exits, breakrooms.
  • Ventilate indoor spaces appropriately, the more enclosed the space the more ventilation will be necessary, consult with an HVAC expert if necessary.
  • Evaluate ride and attractions queues, modify stanchions to keep pedestrian cross traffic at least 2 metres apart. Show the minimum safe distance at all ride and attraction lineups by installing ground level markings.
  • Ensure that air circulation or cooling fans are not directing air flow from person to person.
  • Remove or take out of service anything that promotes crowds and close contact such as drinking fountains, cooling mist stations and other similar services.
  • Install barriers to separate employees from visitors where possible and appropriate. Barriers should be appropriately sized and positioned to block respiratory droplets from being carried from person to person. Barriers should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
  • Facility renovations and upgrades to consider:
    • Install motion activated automatic doors.
    • Install hand motion activated automatic faucets.
    • Automatic flushing toilets and urinals.
    • Hand or foot activated soap, towel, and sanitizer dispensers.
    • Upgrade water fountains with bottle refill station.
    • Replace soft surfaces with hard surfaces which are more easily disinfected (i.e., change carpet to tile, cushioned benches to wooden benches).
    • Ventilation systems – Seek advice from HVAC specialist on ways to increase indoor/outdoor air exchanges per hour, and available options for air filtration and disinfection. An example is installing UV germicidal lighting within HVAC systems or mounted within the ceiling.

Administrative Controls

These types of controls reduce risk through policies, procedures, and training. They rely on personnel management and compliance to be fully effective. Applied properly they can minimize COVID-19 transmission. It is possible for COVID-19 to be spread by people who do not have any symptoms. When setting up controls consider that everyone is potentially infected. Implementing and enforcing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in amusement parks are critical to protecting employees and the public.

Physical distancing and staffing related changes

  • Create and enforce a physical distance policy for your operations. Communicate these requirements to all employees, and visitors.
  • Remind staff and visitors to minimize non-essential in-person interactions with people from other households. Interactions should be kept brief and at the greatest distance possible (minimum 2 meters).
  • Minimize contact for employees reporting to work and simplify the process as much as possible.
  • Adjust daily staff levels to have the fewest people in the workplace (where safe to do so).
  • Comply with park occupancy limits set by public health authorities.
  • Consider having groups of employees that work the same shifts, and keep groups separate as much as possible.
  • Continue with safety and informational meetings but avoid gatherings of people where possible. Conduct gatherings virtually. If that option is not possible, gather in small physically distanced groups, preferably outdoors or in large well-ventilated locations.
  • Remove as many touchpoints as possible, for example eliminating tool sharing or restrict company vehicles to single person use.
  • Discourage impromptu get togethers during downtime, have workers stay apart with the greatest physical distance possible (at least 2 metres).
  • Minimize close physical contact for all job tasks or modify them so they can be performed by one person (if safe to do so). If that is not possible, train all employees to properly wear non-medical masks when they work within 2 metres of each other and keep the interaction as short as possible.
  • Reduce ride capacity, have empty rows and seats on rides and attractions between people from different households, in accordance with physical distancing policy.
  • Plan for how employees and visitors will maintain physical distance while evacuating the park in the event of an emergency.
  • Prepare for exceptions to distancing guidance such as for anyone rescuing a distressed person, providing first aid, or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Consider providing support to employees who are off sick, encouraging them to stay home when they feel ill, even if symptoms are mild.
  • Provide laundry service for work uniforms or require employees wear freshly cleaned uniforms or clothes for each shift. Clothes should be bagged and washed after each shift.

Mask wearing

Proper mask wearing reduces the number of viruses released into the surrounding environment by infected individuals. Having physical distancing (with the greatest distance possible) and mask wearing policies in place is an effective way to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

  • Implement a mask wearing policy. Communicate these requirements to all employees and visitors.
  • The policy should include when, where and which type of mask is required to be worn.
  • Require masks to be properly worn, well-constructed and well-fitting.

Employee training

  • Provide COVID-19 specific training to your employees, at a minimum include the following:
    • COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if they start having symptoms
    • How to prevent the spread of COVID-19
    • How to protect themselves
    • Ways to stay informed (using reputable sources)
    • Good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
    • Changes to policies/procedures due to safety plan findings
    • About the benefits of COVID-19 vaccine
  • Teach employees to avoid unnecessary physical contact such as hugs, handshakes, and high fives, as well as after-work gatherings.
  • Require employees to clean and disinfect equipment controls, screens, tools, radios, personal devices (e.g., cellphones) at the start of each shift or when they take over a workstation.
  • Discourage the sharing of personal items such as cellphones or lighters.
  • Train employees to wash hands or sanitize after touching shared items (e.g., checklists, clipboards, menus, pens, tablets, trays, carts).

Screening and contact tracing

  • Administer a health screening for all people that enter the park. Questions should include current symptoms (if any), recent travel (not counting essential travel for work) and potential COVID-19 exposure (templates are available from your local public health authority or OHS organizations). Consider having employees submit screening results using an online company portal.
  • Employees that pass the screening should be allowed to work. Individuals who do not pass the screening should contact their supervisor. The supervisor should recommend that they stay home and monitor their health or symptoms. Suggest that they contact their health care provider or local public health authority if they develop symptoms or symptoms worsen.
  • Visitors that pass the screening should be allowed into the park, and those that do not should be denied access.
  • Log all employees and visitor access to the park. This is especially important for any sit down activity (e.g., live show, restaurants) which requires more time in one place. This log will make it easier to inform them of potential COVID-19 exposures. If requested, provide the information to the local public health authority to assist their contact tracing efforts. Make sure that privacy is protected, and that the information is stored in a safe and secure manner. Contact information should be properly destroyed as required by local privacy laws.

Communication

  • Park managers should keep up to date and comply with orders from their local public health authorities or regulators.
  • Clearly communicate to employees and visitors all new practices and policies that will affect their experience. Communicate these changes at training sessions, entrances, on websites, by email, and during the ticket purchase process.
  • Put up information posters in high traffic areas (to inform and constantly remind people of good behaviours such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, self screening, and current COVID-19 safety measures).
  • Communications should be written using easy to understand terms, in official and local languages.
  • Use graphics and pictograms to clearly inform visitors about desired and undesired actions.

COVID-19 Response plan

  • When a person reports having COVID-19 symptoms, immediately have them wear a medical mask (if not available, they should wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask).
  • Immediately isolate the symptomatic person from others in a designated area or room.
    • After the person leaves, clean and disinfect all surfaces/objects that the symptomatic person may have touched or been close to.
  • Suggest to the symptomatic person that they should self-isolate at home as soon as possible, seek medical care if necessary, and follow instructions from their local public health authority (information is available on their websites).
  • Instruct the symptomatic person to avoid using public transit, taxi, and ridesharing, if possible.
  • If an employee or visitor informs you of a positive COVID-19 test result, report it to your local public health authority and cooperate with any contact tracing efforts. You may also be required to inform employees who might been exposed unless that is the responsibility of your public health authority. Advise all at risk employees to carefully monitor their health.
  • If the infection is suspected to have occurred at the workplace then confirm with the agencies responsible for OHS (Occupational Health & Safety) and workers compensation in your jurisdiction if this illness needs to be reported. Complete an incident report and begin an investigation.

Amusement and Theme Park Specific Guidance

  • Consider requiring visitors and employees to use a company app to provide up to the minute information, determine close contacts, provide ride wait times (to lower crowding).
  • Park changerooms should be monitored to make sure that physical distance and mask wearing policies are followed.
  • Attempt to run a cashless venue, accepting credit, debit, gift card, smartphone payment options.
  • Cancel live shows (e.g., music, acrobatic, stunt, animal). If your jurisdiction allows these acts, set seating occupancy limits to safe levels, require visitors to remain seated manage foot traffic to maintain physical distancing.
  • Implement a timed ticketing system and assign park admission times to eliminate congestion at park entrances.
  • Refer to restaurant and outdoor dinning tip sheet for dinning guidance. Remove tables to allow for 2 metre distance between dining groups.
  • Put a cancellation policy in effect that allows visitors experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to reschedule their visit without a financial penalty.
  • Run public service announcements promoting safe behaviours over park loudspeaker system.
  • Promote pre-booking and pre-paying for parking and other services. These measures eliminate a touchpoint between visitor and employees.
  • Reduce the number of people allowed in indoor areas of the park and allow time for ventilation between groups.
  • Remove touchpoints at all food stands, stalls, and restaurants such as condiments and towels. Self-serve food and drink options should be suspended until community spread numbers get to safe levels.
  • Suspend equipment rentals (e.g., strollers) unless they can effectively be disinfected between users.

Water Park Specific Guidance

  • Coronavirus has not been shown to transmit via treated pool water; however, people can still transmit the virus through the air. Remind visitors that close and prolonged interactions with people from other households is a high risk activity.
  • Keep changeroom occupancy at levels that allow for at least 2 meters physical distance.
  • Suspend aquatic equipment rentals (e.g., floatation devices, tubes, or rafts) unless the equipment can be effectively disinfected between users.
  • Adjust mask wearing policy in the water parks. Masks are not effective when they are wet and should not be worn when visitor is actively in the water.
  • Make sure that groups are separated.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Follow general cleaning guidance found here.

  • Operators should focus on attractions, handles, railings, touchscreens, rental equipment, washrooms.
  • High transmission risk objects and surfaces should be disinfected multiple times a day.
  • Ensure washrooms are cleaned frequently, have running water or alternative, and are stocked with soap, paper towels and a plastic lined no-touch waste container.
  • Consider applying long lasting antimicrobial products to high touch surfaces high touch surfaces.

Resources

It is important that mental health resources and support are provided to all workers, including access to an employee assistance program, if available.

For further information on COVID-19, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Note that this guidance is just some of the adjustments organizations can make during a pandemic. Adapt this list by adding your own good practices and policies to meet your organization’s specific needs.

Disclaimer: As public and occupational health and safety information is changing rapidly, local public health authorities should be consulted for specific, regional guidance. This information is not intended to replace medical advice or legislated health and safety obligations. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.

Document last updated March 26, 2021