(by Steve Hopkins)
The State of Rhode Island started a new COVID-19 recovery phase on June 1 allowing gyms and sports venues to open with new regulations in place for reporting, operation, cleaning, and social distancing. The Rhode Island Club will be opening beginning on June 8.
Initially the club will be open for three days per week and for only one session each day. Tables have been removed and extra barriers have been installed to assist with social distancing. The club has ceiling exhaust fans, so there is already a mechanism to refresh the air in the club regularly (with the fans pulling air upward and out of the room).
The club will be proceeding with the following new procedures:
- All must sign a waiver upon entry and must provide a phone number and email address. The contact information is required by the State to assist response if there is a case of COVID-19 reported. RITTA will be using a waiver that combines the newly distributed USATT waiver and the “old” RITTA waiver into one document.
- Play will be by reservation only. The reservation process is a simple call or text – with a confirmation being returned noting the table reservation. The window for reserving a table is limited to a 2-hour period on the day one wishes to play (this limits RITTA staff time). Players may call in as an individual and reserve a table – in which case another player or players will be assigned to that table as well – OR – a player may call in as part of a pair or trio and reserve the table for a group. There is a maximum of three players per table (per session), so for the first week this limits occupancy significantly (remaining within the guidelines mandated by the State) and also limits changing of partners (consistent with the guidelines issues by the ITTF).
- Masks are required in common areas. Masks may be removed during play at the tables. *It has been noted that COVID particles can remain present in the air for up to 10 minutes, so if players are going to change partners, RITTA recommends taking a break at the switch or wearing a mask during warm-ups.
- Seating in the club has been removed except for chairs located 6 feet apart. Players are encouraged to bring their bag to the court with them when they play (and to minimize what gear they bring into the club).
- Two balls per court. We are encouraging players to play with a personal ball – and to swap those balls with each service change. We are providing a simple ball cleaning mechanism – a paper plate containing a sponge damp with alcohol will be on each end of the table (one for each player). When your personal ball is not in use, it can be left on the sponge where it can be easily cleaned with alcohol. *Player hands can also easily be cleaned with alcohol if needed.
- Do not switch sides between games. Do not enter other playing areas. Retrieve balls by batting/kicking/rolling when possible. Avoid hand-shaking. Do all of the other recommended cleaning and precautionary things (don’t come if you are sick or have been recently exposed,
- Do not bring food. Drinks are OK. Please clean up after yourself.
- The league operator will use steramine tablets to create an inexpensive cleaning solution which can be used for commonly touched surfaces in the club (and tables). Players are encouraged to help with cleaning surfaces but cleaning of the tables should only be done with the supervision or direction of the league operator – and only with the materials designated for that purpose.
The club leadership expect to expand to multiple sessions and will amend the procedures in future weeks. RITTA hopes to reopen its leagues in August – and to be back on the regular schedule of sanctioned tournaments shortly thereafter.