Rouse Center’s Response to Covid-19
Due to mandated closures, the Rouse Center closed its doors at 10P on Monday, March 17. At the time, we did not know how long we would be closed. 83 days later, we reopened at 9A on Monday, June 8.
Just like so many small businesses around the county, our staff was negatively impacted. To try and minimize spending to give us the best chance of surviving the closure, the decision was made to lay off all part-time staff and all but two of the managers in March. Eastern Sports Management, our parent company, was forced to do the same with their other recreation facilities as well.
Luckily, after countless hours of filling out applications by ESM and weeks of waiting, the Rouse Center received good news. In April, we were approved for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan which gave us the ability to bring our management staff back and start our virtual fitness videos. Towards the end of May, we received funding through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Relief program to help us try to offset our costs and we started processing refunds for programs and leagues that were canceled.
During the closure, we used the time to deep clean the entire facility. We did maintenance on equipment as well as some larger projects. The pool lighting has been completely switched out with LED lighting that we purchased last year to help conserve energy. We have also improved the café area by installing new built-ins as well as repainting the space.
In response to the guidelines and restrictions put in place by Governor Northam, we created our Phase 2 plan on how to reopen. We installed Plexiglass shields at the front desk to help with face to face conversations. We have removed seating areas throughout the facility to provide extra space as well as reduce items that need to be disinfected. We marked equipment off in the fitness center in addition to moving pieces into the basketball court to provide enough distance. We have installed more disinfectant stations and will be installing more as equipment becomes available. We are keeping doors open throughout the facility to minimize surfaces that must be touched. Unfortunately, some parts of our facility are remaining closed during Phase 2 including the JClub and Wellness Pool. We hope to get the café open in the next couple of weeks.
As we move forward, it is important to understand that our staff are a part of the community, like you, and share the same stresses and fears. Many of our employees filed for unemployment after the layoffs and are dealing with financial stress. We have tried to bring as many staff back as we are able, but the fact is that our operating expenses cannot be the same as they were before we closed. Like many people, there is also some fear coming back to work as it might put them at risk of catching the virus. Our goal as a facility is to be good stewards of the community and do what we were built to do. However, that can only be achieved successfully if we can do so safely.
We want you to know that we miss seeing everyone at the gym. The friendships that have been created in the facility are just as important as the health benefits. We want to get back to ‘normal’ as much as everyone else. It was a great experience opening on Monday and seeing all the happy members come in to use the facility. As this situation develops and as Governor Northam provides additional details and lessens restrictions, we will adjust accordingly. We appreciate everyone’s patience during this unprecedented time. I hope everyone stays safe, wash your hands, and we will see you at the gym!