NOTE: This article was originally published March 13th, 2020, last updated July 14th, 2020.
While we want to make sure this advice is current, it is not definitive. We want to recognize the limitations of advice during a pandemic where information is updated by experts daily and strongly urge you to check resources like the CDC and WHO for the most up-to-date information about safety procedures and best practices.
We’ve compiled some critical information and tips for float centers to keep in mind during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Coronavirus is not water-borne. Standard filtration and disinfection in your float solution should be sufficient.
- Coronavirus seems to be primarily spread through droplets in the air. Infected people who present symptoms can spread these through coughing and sneezing, but asymptomatic people can spread the virus great distances just through talking. It’s not currently known how long the virus stays in the air, but enclosed and poorly ventilated spaces have an increased risk of transmission. Employees should wait at least 20 minutes before entering float rooms vacated by customers.
- Surfaces don’t seem to be the primary mode of transmission, but are still a risk factor. Increase disinfection of the interior and exterior of the tank, especially where customers are likely to touch.
Hard Surface Disinfection
- (Re)Familiarize yourself with hard surface disinfection and kill times.
- Use EPA recommended and registered disinfectants on all hard surfaces.
- Stress to your staff the importance of properly disinfecting all items and surfaces that floaters are likely to touch, both in the rooms and out.
- Frequently disinfect chairs, doorknobs, check-in counters, and all solid surfaces where someone might place their hand.
- Consider storing objects that floaters typically touch that aren’t easy to disinfect (float journals, books, toys, etc.).Staff and Customers
Staff and Customers
- All staff should wear masks at all times. All customers should wear masks anytime they’re not alone in the float room. Even cloth masks can help reduce the spread of transmission significantly.
- Brief your staff on what we know, and make sure they feel comfortable answering any customer questions.
- Make sure your staff is washing their hands diligently and not touching their faces.
- Have everyone maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others.
- Make sure staff take sick leave and stay home if they think they’re feeling ill.
- Let customers know that they won’t be charged for canceling floats, even last minute, if they’re not feeling well. Take steps to prevent customers who have symptoms, especially a cough or fever, into your center.
- Put a page on your website informing your customers of your increased cleaning and health policies, and link to it from your scheduling page and emails.
With all of this said, we aren’t microbiologists and information about the pandemic is changing daily. So, back in March we reached out to Dr. Roy Vore for comment.
If you’re not familiar with him, Dr. Vore is a microbiologist and expert on water sanitation; he’s one of the leading experts on outbreaks in shared water facilities (pools, hot tubs, etc), and fortunately for our industry, he’s taken a particular interest in float tanks.
Dr. Vore has had been discussing this issue with pools and spas, so making a statement for float centers wasn’t too far out of his way.
The first thing we learned from talking to Dr. Vore was that the actual name for this virus is SARS-CoV-2. It’s similar to the flu both in how it spreads and what it’s susceptible to. This is what he had to say (see if you can avoid hearing it in his voice):
“This is an enveloped virus. The concentration of salt used will provide a reasonable inactivation, but is not likely to be complete. But this virus is both spread by contact and inhalation of airborne droplets; it is not water-borne. As such, the water is not the medium of transmission.”
It’s been known for years that high concentrations of magnesium sulfate in a water solution can actually stop some viruses and bacteria from spreading that would otherwise thrive in water. As we know, this isn’t sufficient disinfectant for all pathogens, but it does impact our risk factors. Dr. Vore actually did a big talk about this at the 2018 Float Conference.
The nature of our business also means we just don’t have large groups of people interacting with each other. This doesn’t mean we’re off the hook, though.
This virus has a long incubation period, which means that it can last longer on surfaces. So the real danger of this epidemic for a float center is all the stuff that your customers interact with. As Dr. Vore puts it:
“All float centers should focus on disinfection of hard surfaces including chairs, doorknobs, check-in counters, and all solid surfaces where someone might place their hand.”
Back at the beginning of March, Art of the Float recently released an interview with Jason MacDonald, a health regulator in Alberta, Canada. It’s a good listen, although obviously our understanding of the pandemic has shifted and grown since then.
At the very least, hopefully the fact that we’re not a high-risk industry can be something float centers can take some comfort in and emphasize to the public. Be patient, be mindful, and adjust your plans to the environment as new information comes out and the situation develops. And don’t forget to take tank time for yourself to float away some stress.
What IS a float tank, anyway? If you’re first approaching the idea of a business in the float industry, the best place to get started is to understand what a float tank is, how they work, and what initial concerns there are with offering floating from a business...
As we come together again as a community to celebrate the tenth year of the Float Conference, we are overwhelmed with joy from all the hugs, laughs, and excitement about the future. This is a live blog that will be updated as the Conference progresses. We will be...
Greetings Float Fam! It’s that time again. We’re gathering responses for the 2021 Float Industry Report through the end of July, and we once again need your help! Please take a brief moment to answer a few questions about your float center (or future float center)...
Even before experiencing a global crisis, float centers have had a hard time navigating social media, marketing, and just generally keeping their customers engaged. That struggle is even more real in the wake of the COVID pandemic. We’ve spent the last two months (in...
As our communities begin reopening amidst this pandemic, float centers are straddling a line between wanting to run floats and making sure they’re keeping their customers and staff safe. The collective social fatigue and stress are palpable, and it’s apparent to many...
In the first episode of Improving Your Float Center from Home: the Bathrobe Chronicles, Ashkahn and Graham covered the special deal that they're running at Float On during their closure. Watch the full episode below:For the deal, they're offering 25% off floats, and...
These are challenging times for all of us, and many float centers (ourselves included) have decided to temporarily shut down to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Our team got together yesterday to figure out what we need to do to put our shop into hibernation mode,...
Holy smokes we did it! This years’ Start-a-Center Giveaway was really amazing. The quality of submissions was really a cut above any other year we’ve run this, and it certainly made it a challenge choosing between all of the submissions. More than anything, we want to...
We’re just past halfway through the entry period for the 2020 Start-a-Center Giveaway, and so excited by the response thus far! It's amazing that we get to help one winner make their dreams come true and we're so excited to help make that happen. There are tons of...
Stepping into 2020, we know there are hundreds of entrepreneurs looking forward to the opportunity to finally create their own float centers - the floatation community is full of famously passionate individuals with big dreams. This year, we wanna bring back something...