In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies are requiring customers to show proof of vaccination to participate in indoor activities such as shopping, dining or exercising.
This includes certain health clubs, such as East Bank Club in Chicago, and The Edge, with four locations in Vermont.
On September 24, 2021, The Edge announced that effective October 18, 2021, all eligible members, guest and patients of The Edge and its physical therapy clinics will be required to show proof of vaccination. The Edge had already announced all staff must be vaccinated by October 1, 2021.
Like East Bank Club, The Edge made the decision after polling both members and staff. Of the 1,000 members who responded, The Edge found 97% are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. In addition, 99% of its existing staff have been fully vaccinated.
“The decision came from listening to our members and staff,” said Michael Feitelberg, the CEO of The Edge. “The research shows vaccines are an effective tool for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and we want to provide the safest environment for people to exercise, be healthy and protect their mental health.”
The Edge is providing medical and religious exemptions to those who qualify.
So far, Feitelberg said the response has been overwhelmingly supportive. However, there are a few best practices and tips to keep in mind, outlined below:
1. Clearly Communicate.
Feitelberg said it’s vital to be as open, honest and transparent as possible. The Edge addressed a letter to members, posted on social media and created a frequently asked questions documents for reference.
2. Host a Vaccination Clinic.
To ensure members and staff have easy access to the COVID-19 vaccines, consider hosting a free vaccination clinic. The Edge is hosting one September 27 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
3. Don’t Burn Bridges.
“If a member decides to cancel from the policy, we are making it easy for them to leave on a good note,” said Feitelberg. “Like many COVID-19 policies, we are hoping this one isn’t permanent, so try and leave that door open so the member can come back if they choose to down the road.”
4. Lean On Your Community.
Making a decision on whether or not to require proof of vaccination can be a tough ask for a business owner. Feitelberg said it’s important to listen to your community. “It’s a challenging decision, but the science and data supports it,” he said. “You have to listen to your community.”
In a letter to members on the new policy, Feitelberg celebrated the brand’s members and staff who have worked together to ensure a healthy and safe club environment over the last 18 months.
“It is clear the COVID-19 pandemic is still in our communities, however we have the ability to manage this next phase if we can again work together,” wrote Feitelberg. “At every turn our EDGE team has stepped up in amazing ways. The support and follow through of our EDGE team has been critical in our ability to execute our COVID-19 response plan. Equally important was the pivotal role our members have played in assuring the safest environment possible. Everyone embraced the ‘we are in this together’ frame of mind and took to wiping down equipment at a feverish pace, washing and disinfecting hands, remaining physically distant and when necessary, even wearing a mask while exercising. We could not have done it without your support. This approach has been successful, as we have logged over 400,000 visits without an in-club transmission.”
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