CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
For general information about the Coronavirus, please review information publicly available by the Center for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health.
as of March 16, 2020
Beginning March 4, 2020, a select few university administrators began making the elective decision to cancel travel for teams to THE Spring Games. THE Spring Games immediately implemented protocols and procedures to be compliant with CDC and Florida Department of Health recommendations for “mass gatherings.” THE Spring Games continued following those procedures from March 4, 2020 through games ending March 15, 2020.
By March 10, 2020, numerous universities elected to cancel their team’s travel to Florida for reasons unique and personal to each institution. These last-minute cancellations made on-site administration of THE Spring Games very challenging but we were able to maintain a quality product and provide games to the teams who were on site.
At 10:00pm on March 15, 2020, the CDC redefined both “mass gatherings” and “large gatherings” to groups of fifty (50) people or more. Based on these new definitions, and the number of teams who voluntarily cancelled their games prior to the announcement by the CDC, it is with deep regret that we announce that it is now impossible for THE Spring Games to continue games scheduled for the period of March 17-28, 2020.
General information relevant to THE Spring Games:
At THE Spring Games, we are proud to welcome tens of thousands of visitors to Central Florida each year. As part of the vibrant tourism industry, THE Spring Games is mindful that travelers generally experience great excitment when it comes to visiting the Sunshine State. Circumstances like the Coronavirus can create anxiety in travelers and we’d like to be sure that we are providing the most up-to-date information available to our fans so that everyone is comfortable.
The Florida Department of Health has adopted the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control for businesses and events. These recommendations primarily involve basic hygene and sanitation guidelines consistent with practices that should generally be followed during each year’s flu season.
These are the guidelines recommended by the CDC for large events or gatherings and how THE Spring Games intends to do our part to reduce the risk of spread of the Coronavirus:
- Meet with the emergency operations coordinator or planning team at your venues. As a partner of the National Training Center (managed by South Lake Hospital, a subsidiary of Orlando Health), THE Spring Games has already been in contact with the Director of the National Training Center. She has encouraged us to follow basic sanitation protocols and has assured us that she will keep us apprised if the situation worsens or rises to a level of concern for our guests and fans.
- Establish relationships with key community partners and stakeholders. See above. In addition to our connection with the National Training Center, our Tournament Directors and staff work closely with our local City, County, and Tourism offices and have already begun the process of discussions relevant to conducting our event in the safest possible manner.
- Promote the daily practice of everyday preventive actions. The CDC recommends the following daily practices:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your events. THE Spring Games will provide (or ensure they are available) extra supplies for event staff and participants, including sinks with soap, hand sanitizers, tissues, and disposable facemasks (for persons who start having symptoms).
- Plan for staff absences. For 2020, THE Spring Games has adopted staffing policies that include additional staff at each park, each day, and has adopted cross-training practices to ensure that staff are not obligated to work on days they may be feeling ill or demonstrating symptoms of the Coronavirus.
- Promote messages that discourage people who are sick from attending events. This should include messages requesting that people leave events if they begin to have symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. They should seek medical advice promptly by calling ahead to a doctor’s office or emergency room to get guidance.
- If possible, identify a space that can be used to isolate staff or participants who become ill at the event. Persons who become ill, or witness someone to demonstrates symptoms of Coronavirus, should report the issue to the Site Supervisor so that the individual(s) may be removed from the general seating/spectator areas.
- Plan ways to limit in-person contact for staff supporting your events. We love handshakes and hugs but are just as happy with a fist-bump under the circumstances. We want you (and our staff) to be comfortable and are adopting a spirit of understanding relative to in-person contact. That said, our gates are all equipped with hand sanitizers and our staff are trained to use these products regularly.
- Develop ﬂexible refund policies for participants. Fans who use our online ticketing system can get a refund simply by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; there, we can easily issue full or partial refunds for unused tickets. For fans who determine they need to go home before their tickets are validated (or passes used in full), we will offer full or partial refunds, based on the number of days each pass is used.
- Identify actions to take if needed to postpone or cancel events. THE Spring Games works closely with local public health officials to assess local capacities in the area. During a COVID-19 outbreak, resource limitations among local healthcare systems and/or law enforcement can influence the decision to postpone or cancel the event. At this time, there has been no indication of the need to cancel (or possiblity of cancelling THE Spring Games 2020. We do offer a live stream service for the games through FloSoftball for those who would be more comfortable watching the games from home, rather than in-person.
Status of THE Spring Games – Policies for Teams considering cancelling their trip to THE Spring Games
as of March 4, 2020
THE Spring Games has no intention of cancelling the event. We understand that teams and fans may elect to withdraw from participation from the event based on their own assessment of the risks associated with travel.
General information based on facts at our disposal as of this update:
- There have been fourteen (14) reported incidents (diagnoses) of Coronavirus in Florida. Two (2) deaths have resulted from the Coronavirus in Florida.
- All of the incidents of Coronavirus have been reported an hour or more from sites used by THE Spring Games for games. We recommend travelers stay as close to our playing facilities as possible.
With over 470 unique colleges and universities attending 2,300+ contests, the impact of a team’s withdrawal from the event would be catastrophic not only to the event itself, but, most importantly, to the teams scheduled to play the team electing to withdraw. Based on the information communicated to us by our healthcare partners and as issued by the CDC and Florida Department of Health guidelines, the risk of Coronavirus infection do not outweigh the negative impact on opposing teams, our staff, and umpires that would be caused by a college or university’s last-minute decision to withdraw from participation in THE Spring Games.
We DO ask that all teams implement and exercise good hygene practices, as recommended by the CDC. Teams should be prepared for travel with plenty of soap, alcohol-based sanitization wipes, sprays, or gels, tissues, and face masks.
To the same end that THE Spring Games has adopted basic protocols to support our fans and teams, we ask that teams conduct themselves in the same manner. The CDC recommends the following everyday preventative actions to prevent the spread of respiratory disease:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
We also recommend that teams sanitize their living areas (flat surfaces, kitchens, and bathrooms) and ensure that their players and coaches regularly hand wash and avoid contact with others if they demonstrate signs of illness.
These are basic self-care practices that will discourage the spread of any illness (including, but not limited to, the Coronavirus) based on the information made available by the CDC and Florida Department of Health.
For the above reasons, THE Spring Games will not issue refunds for any monies paid by teams to participate in THE Spring Games and we reserve the right to pursue damages – direct and indirect, incidential, or otherwise – from any college or university who elects to withdraw from the event at this point in time.
If the conditions change and cancellation – in whole or in part – of the event becomes justified, then THE Spring Games reserves the right to amend this policy.