With the ongoing conversation and concern regarding COVID-19, many customers are taking precautionary measures and deciding what kind of activities work best for them. In some parts of the U.S., people have been encouraged to avoid large gatherings, such as crowded theaters and bars, sports events, and concerts. Various gaming conventions and tournaments have been affected as well, some even announcing cancellations.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has asked people to “keep to regular routines and schedules as much as possible … as well as time for safely playing and relaxing.” Avoiding larger gatherings doesn’t have to mean skipping out on smaller group settings, and with people looking for ways to safely relax, what better option is there than gaming? Let’s take a look at a few ways you can prepare your store to safely accommodate guests for smaller gatherings.
Limit Handshakes and Contact
Though a friendly handshake at the beginning or end of a match normally is common among players, WHO suggests greeting with a wave, nod, or bow instead. Consider posting signs and making announcements to encourage players to remain friendly with gestures other than handshakes.
But there are other points of contact where the disease can be transmitted as well. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests keeping your commercial establishment safe by having employees and guests wash their hands at the door, use tap and pay to limit cash handling, and regularly disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails.
Having hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and tissues within view of guests will promote their use, to help keep everyone safe and comfortable. It’s also a good idea to increase ventilation when possible by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
Move Apart Tables & Chairs
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed, which mainly occurs person-to-person. This means between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Coughs and sneezes should be covered by tissues or the inside of your elbow to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, but you can further enhance player safety and comfort by spacing out the tables and chairs a bit more than usual. Though it may not be time for a big, crowded tournament in your store, you can still help people relax by giving them plenty of breathing room to play games.
Keep Bathrooms Clean
We’ve covered before how trust begins with cleanliness, and this has never been truer than right now. You build customer trust with a clean bathroom, and that means sights and smells of cleanliness—in addition to a good stock of toilet paper, paper towels, and hand soap. If you don’t have “handwashing instructions” by your sink, now’s a great time! A covered trash can, especially for used tissues, will also go a long way toward preventing the spread of disease.
Customers and employees should wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and thoroughly cover their hands and wrists when doing so. WHO encourages people to wash their hands “after sneezing or coughing, when caring for the sick, before, during, and after you prepare food, before eating, after toilet use, when hands are visibly dirty, and after handling animals or animal waste.”
Sell Take-Home Tournament Kits
While this won’t be an option for every customer or every game, consider putting together “take-home tournaments” that concerned players can purchase. Groups of players may pool their funds to buy a handful of booster packs or a sealed game as well as some prize support—perhaps promos, supplies, extra product, a voucher for store credit, or a snack. This keeps revenue for you, lets the customers play somewhere more comfortable for them, and keeps space available in your store. Wizards of the Coast has already announced “Event Guidelines and Accommodations” regarding take-home Ikoria prereleases and enrolling players in such events.
Use these tips to keep yourselves, your employees, and your customers safe. Spending an evening with friends gaming is a safer choice than a night on the town, and organized play at a friendly gaming store is the perfect place.
Post pictures on social media of your sanitizer supply, spaced tables, and clean bathrooms to make sure players know about your events—and that they know you take their health seriously. Write a message that lists the precautions you’ve taken, and share it on Facebook, on your front door, and in your email newsletter. Keep clean, and keep scheduling!