Why Trumps closed and reopened

Why Trumps closed
It was announced that non-essential services such as entertainment venues should close from noon on Monday 23 March 2020, and accordingly, Trumps cancelled all bridge games and lessons till the start of June.
Thanks to the many of you who expressed your best wishes for the club over that difficult period. We reciprocate those best wishes to you and yours. One thing you may wish to do to express your support is to vote for Trumps in the Small Business Awards https://thebusinessawards.com.au/business/37499/Trumps-Bridge-Centre?voted=true
Bridge also ceased at our other venues: Warringah Bowls Mosman, Balmoral, Monash, RACA, Baytree and The Manors. It was decided to reopen bridge at the RACA (the Royal Automobile Club at Circular Quay) from 7 July; the game runs Tuesdays from 10.30am.
Why we reopened 
In late May 2020, it was announced that clubs, pubs, restaurants and cafes could have up to one guest for every 4 square metres of space (maximum 50 total). There are various conditions including that guests must be seated.
The office of our local member advised that we should be OK to reopen, but checked with the Health Minister's office who advised that there could be further clarification in a few days. When this was not forthcoming, we contacted the Health Minister's office directly, and were informed that the wording indicated we were permitted, but to contact the police as they are the ones who make the decision on the ground. Mosman Police indicated it should be fine, but put us through to Chatswood Police for confirmation, and they indicated it was fine if we kept within the regulations e.g. the 4 sqm rule, have a record of attendees, and do the required cleaning and sanitising.
We have only reopened games at Trumps, not at our associated venues. The precautions we take upon reopening include those we implemented at the start of this crisis as recommended by government authorities and health experts:
* sanitiser, hand wash and wipes provided for all to use on arrival at the club
* staff sanitising surfaces including toilets, door handles and Bridgemates
* germ-killing sprays used
* thermometer available if there are concerns that anyone has a temperature.

All players are asked to also take the initiative:
* stay at home if unwell, whether with flu, coronavirus or any other transmissible illness
* scrub your hands with soap and water (or sanitiser) before and after eating and after visiting the bathroom (as well as sanitising on arrival as noted above)
* cough or sneeze into your elbow (or into a tissue which you dispose of, then sanitise your hands)
* minimise contact with your face (especially mouth, nose and eyes) and contact with others
(avoid skin contact)
Other measures:
* we purchased oversized table tops to increase physical distancing at bridge
* we also installed physical barriers (Perspex); 
* we waive credit card surcharges (to discourage cash)
* we have limited numbers at the club - please book
Expert advice 
When Australia was moving towards shutdown in the early stages of the COVID crisis, we sought expert advice and said that we would appreciate any expert advice regarding reopening. That request stands. There are distinct aspects on which advice could be given, from assessing the degree of risk in general and for bridge in particular, to practical advice on the measures to be taken to mitigate that risk.
Regarding risk in general, according to Robert Booy of the University of Sydney, Australia could have "fewer deaths from respiratory infections overall this year" compared to last year, because the advent of COVID is more than offset by the reduction in influenza. In 2019, Australia had 312 978 confirmed flu cases, resulting in 902 deaths, about eight times the number of deaths from COVID in the first half of 2020.
Flu deaths are likely to be low this year. In April 2020, Australia recorded 229 lab-confirmed cases of flu, compared to 18 705 cases in the same month last year. The sealing of Australia's borders and the measures taken within the country have seen flu cases plummet. Normally cases would increase dramatically as we entered the winter flu season, yet this year there are fewer cases than there were as summer ended - in February 2020 there were 7161 lab-confirmed cases! Another encouraging point for Australia is that many of its COVID cases have been connected to overseas travel.
There have also been reports of declines in other respiratory infections such as pneumonia (even though this is one of the conditions seen in patients with COVID, which was not circulating in Australia last year). If risks of respiratory illness are currently lower than they were last year, why is Trumps taking extreme hygiene measures in 2020 compared to 2019, even beyond those mandated by the government? A few points need to be made:
* COVID is more dangerous and transmissable than the usual flu, and if it spikes Australia could face disaster as we have seen overseas
* bridge clubs have high risk factors: age group; enclosed space; long periods of time in proximity to others
One other factor is if players use the same cards. The SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID can survive for days on certain materials including plastic. To reduce the risk, we can minimise the number of people who handle a set of cards during a session, and we then ensure that set of boards is not used for several days. Also, expert advice is that while the virus can be transmitted via surfaces (fomites), this is not a common means of transmission. An infected person would have to deposit viral particles on the cards, and another person use the same cards; being infected on the hands should not be problematic in itself, but then touching the face before washing or disinfecting hands could cause infection.
Report from the World Bridge Federation
in May 2020, the WBF released a BIOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT DOCUMENT FOR CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) IN BRIDGE ACTIVITIES, Although this paper was to look after the health and safey of players in international championships, it has relevance for club bridge too. The following information comes from this document.
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus that is mainly spread through contact with droplets of breath expelled by infected people through, for example: - saliva, coughing, sneezing or just talking; - direct personal contact; - hands, for example, by touching the mouth, nose or eyes with contaminated hands. The virus is highly contagious. Droplets normally do not manage to travel more than one meter before falling to the ground, which is why a distance of one meter is considered sufficient to prevent transmission. [In some situations there can be] droplet contamination over longer distances than the canonical 1-1.5 m of suggested social distance. Respiratory diseases are not normally transmitted through food, but it must be handled in accordance with good hygiene practices.
Transmission mechanisms: According to currently available data, symptomatic people are the most frequent cause of virus spread. The WHO considers infection with a new coronavirus to be infrequent before symptoms develop, although there are numerous observations of transmission of the infection in the two days prior to the onset of symptoms.
Characteristics required for game environments: Floors, walls, play tables and equipment that can be washed and sanitised; Adequate air exchange in playing venues (better if done naturally than artificially by air conditioning); Appropriate hygiene standards for everyone (players and organisational staff); Availability and proper use of PPE suitable for biological risk protection.
Trumps response: agree with sanitising etc. Re air exchange, we ask people to accept limited player numbers, and open doors etc to minimise air-con. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may depend on player preference - people may make their choices depending on personal circumstances and societal case numbers.
Operational protocol:
* Information sheet
* Rooms sanitised every day; game tools and furniture sanitised [between sessions]. Rooms ventilated, by circulating fresh air, at the end of each session.Air conditioning systems carefully maintained
* [Individuals with] temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius not allowed access.
* Accesses and exits to the Tournament premises with appropriate physical and temporal distances.
* Social distancing (at least one metre) will always be encouraged.
* Use appropriate individual PPE.
* Use of play tables (1m x 1m) with a cross divider (preferably plexigas) in order to create four separate spaces.
* Spacing the play tables at least 4 metres from each other, with a space of at least 16 square metres for each table [Trumps will use 92cm square tables to fit the Perspex screens as we were advised screens longer than 1.3m diagonal are problematic].
* [If using cards not tablets) replace or sanitise them after the session [Trumps removes boards from circulation for several days).
* Streamline toilet use.
* All rooms will be equipped with hand sanitisers and disinfectants.
The future 
Whether Trumps shuts down again or returns to a full program or something in between depends on risk assessments handed down by officaldom and also by any other advisers. 
It is likely that Trumps will continue to run online bridge into the future. It assists those who want to minimise infection risks of whatever sort, and it is sometimes convenient and many find it almost as enjoyable as the real thing.