The Atlanta Hawks are introducing their “Safety Six” protocols to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as the team prepares for the return of fans to its home court at the award-winning State Farm Arena. Developed with input from industry experts in healthcare, live events, hospitality, and food service, the clearly defined approach includes:
- Limited Capacity and Physical Distancing
- Mandatory Face Coverings
- Contactless entry, Screening, and Transactions
- Touchless Hand Sanitizer Stations and Restroom Fixtures
- Robust Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures
- Safe Food and Beverage Distribution Practices
The arena will welcome back a limited number of fans tomorrow tonight with a significantly reduced capacity of approximately eight percent and social distancing in all arena spaces, including premium, back-of-house areas, and restrooms. Face coverings will be required at all times in all arena spaces. New approaches to minimizing person-to-person contact include the installation of all touchless restroom fixtures throughout the entire venue as well contactless security screenings and payments for all retail, food, and beverages. Sanitation enhancements include the use of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved cleaning products and increased number and frequency of cleaning teams during events. Those returning to the arena for the first time since the NBA shut down to fans last March will also notice the installation of plexiglass dividers at concession areas and some seating areas as well as restricted concourse gathering.
“We take the decision of re-opening State Farm Arena to our fans extremely seriously as the safety of our fans, staff, and players is paramount. We continue to work closely not only with the NBA, but several experts in the healthcare industry and venue operations sector,” said Brett Stefansson, executive vice president and general manager of State Farm Arena. “We are taking advantage of a wealth of knowledge available to help us develop a plan that will have high standards of safety and provide a tremendous guest experience, while allowing us remaining flexible as local market conditions dictate.”
The Hawks recently announced that State Farm Arena is the first facility to receive the Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED™ designation. Going far beyond basic facility standards, Sharecare’s verification system establishes a consistent global baseline for health security, requiring that live sports and entertainment venues verify their health protocols on an ongoing basis across more than 140 expert-validated standards and more than 600 checkpoints including health and hygiene protocols, air and water management, physical distancing, the attendee experience, and health safety communication with patrons and employees. The Atlanta-based digital health company and jersey patch partner of the team also reviewed team safety guides.
Additionally, State Farm Arena sought the counsel of Emory Healthcare, the official healthcare provider of the Hawks. Emory Healthcare’s Sujit Suchindran, M.D. acts as the team’s infectious diseases expert consultant as required by the NBA. In that capacity, Suchindran provided input on the arena’s “Return to Live Events” guide and hosted informational sessions with the team’s executive committee. Going forward, Suchindran will be on-call for recommendations and new information as it relates to health and safety guidelines throughout the season.
Other Emory Healthcare doctors also provided training to the arena’s part-time staff as well as basketball operations staff on the most up-to-date health and safety information about COVID-19 and specific considerations associated with working an event in an indoor space. The joint “3 W” campaign was also created in collaboration between the Hawks and Emory Healthcare, focusing on Wearing your mask, Watching your distance, and Washing your hands through player-driven public service announcements.
Additional steps being taken by the venue, named Pollstar’s Best New Concert Venue in 2020, include securing the The WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management, an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols, occupant engagement and emergency plans. The arena also began using the CLEAR App for fans and employees for real-time health screening with identity verification on a personal device, making the experience quick, safe and easy for everyone.
For additional information on the Hawks and State Farm Arena’s health and safety protocols please visit Hawks.com/safety.