From the ORCKA Board of Directors:
We sincerely hope you are staying well, and that everyone you know is healthy. As Ontario starts to reopen for outdoor recreational activity and enterprise we are certainly looking forward to getting back to running ORCKA programming! -- cautiously, and when the time comes. The reopening of the Province will be a regional approach, so it’s important to be up-to-date:
- Be familiar with the requirements and recommendations of local health units: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx -- class orders, restrictions, and recommendations will change from unit to unit. Plan to minimize impact on local health units, especially those with limited resources. Contact the relevant local health unit and inform them of your intention to reopen your paddling enterprise, and enquire about any special recommendations.
- Be familiar with the list of essential workplaces -- if you have any questions about whether a business is allowed to be open you can call the ‘Stop the Spread Business Information Line’ at 1-888-444-3659. Ontario’s Closure of Places of Non-Essential Businesses is the actual order regarding closure of non-essential businesses … to be sure if a business is ‘allowed to be open’ it may be necessary to contact a local by-law officer.
- Be familiar with workplace guidelines and requirements. As of yet there are no specific ‘Outdoor Education’ or ‘Paddling Industry’ guidelines, but as new sectors are reopened new guidelines are produced.
- Be familiar with the requirements and recommendations of local townships, counties, municipalities, etc. -- as well as Ontario Parks and Parks Canada.
- Stay on top of news at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/ and https://news.ontario.ca/en/search?keywords=covid-19 … have you, your staff, and your clients take a self-assessment often, and do the responsible thing and self-isolate if you are showing symptoms.
ORCKA’s membership, and the paddling community at large, are a socially responsible group; everyone is interested in being part of the solution as we get past the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to being socially responsible, and promoting safe, knowledgeable, and enjoyable paddling in Ontario, when it comes to running ORCKA programming there are important insurance considerations we all need to be aware of: depending on the insurance underwriter there may be a ‘communicable disease exclusion’ written into a new [or renewed] policy … in all cases it is a good idea to rewrite waivers and forms accordingly. It is also important to be able to communicate clearly and concisely your new COVID-19 operating protocols, and to have them recorded and ready-to-go as a written addition to your Risk Management Plan -- be prepared to provide a list of ‘must-see protocol’ from the point of view of insurance providers and other ‘non-paddling community’ stake-holders, and use this to update your risk management plan:
- Government guidelines and directives
- Remove or mitigate usage of ‘high-touch’ items
- Pre-and-post-activity participant assessment/questionnaire and reporting
- Distancing protocol and/or numbers of participants
- Personal hygiene and cleaning of common-use areas and items -- log the personal hygiene and cleaning protocol
- Minimize impact on surrounding community
- Document staff-training/management and updated operating protocols, including choices around PPE, rescue/emergency-response protocol, and staff health-testing
- Checklist and vetting to ensure you are ready to reopen
This week ORCKA is finishing up with legal consultations and double-checking with our insurance provider -- starting next week we will have recommendations regarding waivers and forms, and regarding exactly how to cover the above points when adding to your Risk Management Plan; we will have specific recommendations regarding new instructor:participant and trip-leader:participant ratios, PPE for courses or on trip, specific participants being assigned to specific tasks on trip or during a course, rescue scenarios, cleaning of paddling equipment, running a shuttle, etc.
As members of ORCKA we can be proactive in maintaining exemplary behaviour: when it comes time to reopen, be socially responsible in running programming and contribute to showing the public that the paddling community is doing its part to ‘stop the spread’; be aware that there will be a sizable proportion of the population that will remain reticent to participate in certain social activities for the rest of 2020 and help to inform them about paddling and COVID-19; remember that we’ve already seen ‘public backlash’ against businesses trying to reopen too quickly and in an irresponsible manner.
Stay safe everyone, and keep well!