It was exciting to learn earlier today that all yachting and boating activity is allowed under alert level 2.
It has been a challenging time over the last few weeks, on so many different levels, and that's why it's really important we don't spoil the good work we've all done in this country to get Covid-19 under control.
I'm really hopeful we will move to level 2 soon, so it's a really good time as both an individual and club to prepare for this change. There are a number of things you will need to consider to operate safely and each club should implement a health and safety plan specific to the current situation.
There's plenty of information on the Covid-19 website, as well as Worksafe New Zealand that can help you with this, and Sport New Zealand go into good detail around what is allowed under the various alert levels.
Some of the most important things to consider are:
- You should meet social distancing requirements of 1m if you know the person and 2m if you don't. If in doubt, spread out.
- Maintaining good hygiene practices, like regular washing and drying of hands, good cough/sneeze etiquette and avoiding touching your face
- Creating a good system for contact tracing for everyone who visits the club, which includes having one person responsible for holding this information
- Disinfecting surfaces before and after use, including boats, and having regular cleaning procedures for objects used regularly like door handles
- Having good signage in and around your club that outlines key messages, and indicating how often bathroom facilities have been cleaned and how many people are allowed in a bathroom at any one time. If you have a boat ramp, everyone needs to understand their responsibilities and good health and safety plans need to be in place and visible
- Implementing several soap/sanitiser stations around your premises (eg entrance, boat park, changing rooms, food and water distributions stations and all gathering rooms and stations) and encouraging members to bring their own to keep costs down
- Appropriate number of waste bins with lids for discarded tissues
- Washing shared equipment, like life jackets, after every use
- Careful transfer of food and water during training and racing to avoid cross-contamination
- Encouraging people who display flu-like symptoms to self-isolate
- Being respectful of vulnerable people with pre-existing conditions, like heart and respiratory conditions, who need additional care
As you can see, there's a lot to think about so it's really important clubs don't rush to open their doors. You need to have these measures in place before that happens rather than rushing to operate again and then playing catchup.
Clubs who offer food and beverages will be able to operate again and functions will be able to be held but will need to follow food safety guidelines as well as restrictions on group sizes.
We've put together a guide which you and your club might look to use to help you prepare for a return to activity. This will be updated regularly as more information comes to hand.
I'm sure you have plenty of questions and I've tried to answer what I think some of the most common might be in the Q&A section below. I'll also be hosting another Zoom session on Monday at 5pm which one representative from each club and class association is welcome to join. Please register your interest here and submit any questions you might have.
We'll also be joined by Aon New Zealand account manager Sam Gunn at this Zoom meeting on Monday because we are aware that it's time for clubs to renew insurance premiums. Our understanding is that, unless your club has lodged a major claim, premiums will stay at the same level for the upcoming year. The club resilience fund might be something clubs could use to help meet their insurance costs.
I know how much I've missed getting out on the water lately but, please, make sure your club is ready before opening your doors again.
Yachting New Zealand chief executive
Question and Answers
Is all yachting and boating allowed under alert level 2?
Yes, this includes dinghies, keelboats, powerboats and pleasure craft as long as the guidelines around social distancing, hygiene and contact tracing are met.
Does that mean we can go keelboat sailing, not just short-handed sailing?
Yes. Again, you'll need to meet the guidelines. You will need to clean and disinfect boats each time you go sailing and supply santiser onboard and you might also consider suggesting crew wear sailing gaiters and sunglasses (more about preventing contact with face then filtering droplets) as well as full-fingered gloves.
What about regattas? Will they be allowed?
Yes. Gatherings of up to 100 people outside and inside will be allowed under alert level 2 which means some regattas can go ahead. Without sounding like a broken record, clubs will need to meet guidelines around contact tracing, hygiene and social distancing and it is advised to hold briefings and prizegiving online or in wide, open spaces. Protests and hearings should take place while observing physical distancing. Inter-regional travel will be allowed under level 2 so it might see some travel to compete in regattas.
We've been hurting as a club because of lockdown. What can we do?
This morning, the Government announced a $25 million Sport New Zealand community resilience fund. Each club can apply for a maximum of $1000.
What will we need to do to set up a good contact tracing protocol?
Every club should identify one person whose role is to oversee this process and who is available to be contacted at all times. Yachting New Zealand are working on clubs and individuals being able to use the Yachting New Zealand app to do this, otherwise paper records will need to be kept. All records will need to be kept for four weeks and available to be shared with the Ministry of Health at all times. See more here.
Our club relied on community trust funding? Will things go back to normal now?
Community trust funding is a concern. Pubs will be able to open again under level 2, meaning class 4 gaming (pokie machines) will be back in operation. But it's unlikely the flow of money from gaming trusts will happen quickly, perhaps not until mid-July, and it's likely to be at a reduced level. Generally, societies will consider previously lodged applications once funding recommences, however reapplications may be needed as most grants before lockdown would have most likely been declined. If you have received investment from a gaming association for an event that could not take place, please return that investment. If in doubt, seek professional advice and act in good faith.
What are Yachting New Zealand's plans around coaching clinics and holding regattas?
We see the restrictions on international travel as a great opportunity for New Zealand top sailors to connect with this country's yachting community at national, regional and club level. After all, our Olympic and youth sailors need to remain race sharp, which will mean competing in more class championships. It will also mean a number of this country's top coaches - Olympic coaches, Olympic sailors and experienced Yachting New Zealand coaches - will be more available to pass on their skills and knowledge and many will be coaching and mentoring at clinics this winter.
We're looking to facilitate a quality domestic racing circuit to replicate experiences that would have occurred at international events and we'll work with clubs, class associations and parents to make this successful and provide continuity between classes. We'll still look to select an NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team even though December's youth worlds are in doubt.
The aim is to restart the Aon youth clinics and also hold a national youth championships event in October as planned. We've found online tools to be particularly valuable over the last few weeks and these communications will continue.
There's talk of creating a trans-Tasman bubble so could that extend to sailing?
Absolutely, but we're obviously reliant on the border opening up with Australia. We've already been in detailed discussions with Australian Sailing about New Zealand sailors crossing the Tasman to train and compete and for some of Australia's best to head this way. This, however, could still be some time away and other international travel might not happen this year at all.