As you may imagine, when we decided to open the first new squash center that Manhattan has seen this century – and a non-profit one at that – we had lots of things we were worried about but a global pandemic was not among them. Before we get into the details of our response, I’d like to thank Cleve (Director of Operations, and the person responsible for managing all aspects of the center day-to-day) for doing an amazing job keeping on top of what’s going on and making sure that we are prepared.
We have considered everything from a full shut down to continuing as normal and a plethora of scenarios in the middle. And what’s clear to us is none of the extremes work. Manhattan Squash cannot exist without your monthly membership dues and we can’t continue “as usual”. Put in the plainest English, we can’t pay rent without collecting membership fees, so shutting down completely unless absolutely necessary while requiring you to continue to pay your monthly dues doesn’t seem fair to anyone. On the other hand, we cannot continue as though nothing has changed either. Our lives have changed. And so our response is all about doing the right thing and protecting the community we hold most dear.
So while we are going to remain open – at least for now – we are considering reduced operating hours (we would close when courts are not being used). And we have already cancelled all programming and group activities until the risk lessens. The first of these to return will likely be private lessons, but we expect it will be a while before we allow more than two people on a court.
We obviously need your understanding, support and cooperation in keeping Manhattan Squash open. First and foremost we need our members to follow the now well-known health guidelines. Please:
- Don’t come in if you feel anything less than 100%
- Wash your hands before you play
- Use the sanitizing stations every time you get on court
- Practice social distancing when you are not at The Center.
Cleve has already sent out a list of what we are doing, but it bears repeating that we are disinfecting all high-touch surfaces four times per day including court door handles, faucets, phone charging stations, locker locks; and we have stopped charges for late cancellations to encourage you to stay home if you are not feeling well.
If your income and resources have changed because of the changing work conditions, and during this period you need financial assistance, please let us know. While we cannot allow people to suspend their membership because of COVID-19, we are a non-profit and 25% of our membership is already receiving economic assistance. We will help as best we can.
If you are concerned about how squash should fit into your fitness regime take a look at what Donald G. McNeil Jr. the New York Times Science and Health Reporter has to say on the subject.
“I go to a gym. I play squash, which means all I have to touch in common with the other player is the ball, and I know my partner. I would be real reluctant to start grabbing a bunch of weights, not knowing who else had touched them, grabbing a bunch of handles on machines, not knowing who had touched them.”
For the full podcast click here.
And for those of you who’d like something on another subject – probably any other subject at this point – here’s a link (and an embed at the bottom of this post) to out-takes from an interview I did with Kumail Nanjiani (he was in Silicon Valley, Portlandia, Stuber and stars in the as-yet-unreleased “The Eternals” Marvel movie) where he talks about squash and being a superhero (because at least in my mind the two are intrinsically related). For Marvel fans there are a few tidbits here that are being leaked for the first time. Why include this video in a note about a pandemic? Because you can watch it while practicing social distancing, it’s all about squash, and given that you can’t do many social things right now what else are you going to do when you aren’t on court?
Thank you for your continued support and understanding. And as always, try not to boast, just keep it deep.