As a resident of the Greater Manchester area and Oldham in particular we’ve been living in the shadow of relatively high Covid infection rates since mid July.
Lockdown & Zoom
In the first lockdown phase we “pivoted” our martial arts classes to online delivery. Most of our older students - teens and above - enjoyed the experience but it just hasn’t been suitable for our younger students.
So when the opportunity to reopen arose and we were able to secure our own permanent training space, we jumped at the chance. Thankfully so did our students who virtually all returned to training.
We’ve since started advertising again and found interest in our take up to be strong, albeit the continuing uncertainty and debate over which Tier we occupy has been unhelpful.
Tier 2 or 3 ?
We were initially relieved, though surprised, to see Greater Manchester classified in Tier 2 which has enabled us to continue to offer classe. More recently seen Tier 3 categorisation of Lancashire, continue to allow gyms and Martial arts classes to continue, subject to appropriate Covid Safeguards.
However, there’s no doubt that the continuing uncertainty of debating which Tier Greater Manchester should belong to, is proving confusing to potential customers.
Playing it safe whatever the tiers
For our part, we have to set aside the political debate and come to our own conclusions on what is safe for our students. Here’s what we’ve concluded:
for the most vulnerable - eg elderly, those with a condition which previously required shielding etc it's going to safest to train by Zoom. The additional risks of training can be minimised as I outline below but whatever the politicians say, I’d expect provision of classes by Zoom, to eliminate the risk for this group
We know that mixing with anyone who may have symptoms is likely to result in the spread of the Virus. So we remind our students of the likely symptoms and we take a temperature check on entry to the martial arts hall, observe for any signs of coughing, shortness of breath or other symptoms. If we’re in doubt then you can’t train. This applies to students and parents accompanying kids.
We know that the virus can spread from touch or surfaces. So hand sanitising on entry is required. Floors are sanitised before class. Free standing punch bags are provided for individual use only and sanitised before and after class. This way contamination from surfaces is minimised if not removed.
We know that the virus is airborne, so the closer you are to another person, the higher the risk of transmission. So we set out a 3 metre training space which is clearly marked out with 9 training matts which are set out like a chess board so it’s very obvious which is your training zone. This is your personal training area and enables you to train at a larger social distance than the 2 metre rule. Partner based pad work is not possible as a consequence, but you have a free standing punchbag so can still achieve the same effect.
We know that the more people you mix with, the higher the risk of contamination. So there’s a 15 minute gap between classes so there’s no mixing or passing between classes
We’ve also completed a full risk assessment covering wider issues. For our part whether we’re in Tier 2 or 3, if martial arts training is permitted (as it continues to be in Lancashire’s tier 3) we’re ready to kick Covid out of our classes so our students can train in confidence.