When will we lift all restrictions at RCSC? When will we allow guests at RCSC facilities? These are questions the board of directors get asked in emails or hear frequently at board meetings. I can guarantee that every board member and every senior management staff member would love to go back to normal, but that is not the safe thing to do right now.
The Arizona ZIP code COVID numbers between Feb. 14 and Feb. 21 show that there were 33 more confirmed cases in the 85351 zip code and 21 more confirmed cases in the 85373 zip code. I know the 85373 zip code is more than just Sun City, but these are the confirmed cases and there are many people who get sick and never get tested.
We also are hearing about new variants such as those that originated in the United Kingdom, South African and now the Brazil variant, which may prove to be more contagious, more deadly and able to reinfect those who have already had COVID. We know that our numbers in Arizona and the nation are dropping and the age on getting a vaccine is now down to 55 which is a good sign. This means we are getting closer — but we are not quite there.
Last summer when the numbers in Arizona were the worst numbers in the world, all gyms/fitness centers were forced to close. We had to apply to reopen as things improved, and senior Mmanagement had to sign attestations to reopen the fitness centers, agreeing to follow all Arizona Department of Health Services requirements, which included 25% maximum use of fitness centers and locker rooms, along with sanitation after use of each locker which would have required additional staff.
With the cost of the PPE we were already having to purchase and then increasing our staff, it would have meant a significant rise in the annual assessment. Therefore, our solution was to limit how many dressing areas and showers and not allow any locker use. Fortunately, following Gov. Doug Ducey’s most recent executive order in early March, we were able to open pool and fitness center locker room, though masks and physical distancing continue to be required.
The question about allowing guests is another issue we have been dealing with lately. We have been asked why we can allow guests at the golf courses but not anywhere else. Golf was deemed as an essential activity by Gov. Ducey, so we allowed guests to remain on our golf courses, which has provided additional income for RCSC to help offset the additional costs of sanitation throughout our facilities. Golf does allow guests but do not make use of a guest pass. Our golf courses also stopped taking cash to just taking credit cards only so there was no exchange between the staff and the golfers.For other activities, a guest pass is required.
During COVID when cardholders use the pools or fitness centers, the cardholder’s key fob/card is put under the card reader with very little or no physical interaction with the staff. When it comes to the guest passes, there is a physical interaction in buying the host punch card, completing the guest pass, and check identification. It is true that it does not take a guest pass to walk in Hilltop Park, but the inconsistency of when to allow guests and when not to makes it a difficult policy to enforce. I personally find it difficult to open up our facilities to guests when we have several clubs and activities that have not been able to open since March 2020.
RCSC has been very consistent in following the CDC recommendations and ADHS requirements. We all want normalcy again, and we will get there, but loosening restrictions now would not be a safe idea.
We encourage our cardholders to take part in the activities that are currently available if they are interested. Please continue to wear your masks, follow social distancing, wash hands, and get your vaccine. Be patient, we will get back to normal.
Editor's Note: Sue Wilson is president of the Recreation Centers of Sun Cities governing board.