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Ensuring health safety at the new UBS Arena

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A team of health professionals and engineers have spent the last year reviewing more than 250 strategies to keep patrons safe at the new US Arena when it opens in the fall, and are now ready to demonstrate some of the protocols they will have in place at the arena by welcoming sponsors, clients and sales prospects back to their Preview Club in Manhattan, while also working to attain GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation for the arena from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.

The building is already code-compliant, according to Ed Bosco, managing principal for New York-based ME Engineers, and will feature a new ventilation system and operations designed to limit physical interactions. Parking payments could be made over the phone at the new arena, which will also have contactless grab-and-go food and mobile ordering, restrooms equipped with touchless fixtures and dispensers and cashless checkout options.

Additionally, anyone who visits the Preview Club over the next few months will be required to practice social distancing and wear face coverings, except when they are eating and drinking, and all staff will receive the “proper mandatory training” on Covid-19 disinfection and safety protocols, including PPE usage and Covid symptom reporting protocols.

“We know what works,” Bosco said, “and we’re trying to match it up with customer experience.”

Bosco had been helping Australian Open officials deal with the wildfires last year, he said, when he saw the coronavirus start to spread throughout the East. He then became involved in two international task forces to address the spread of the respiratory illness, and soon, he said, “It became real clear that this was airborne.”

Since then, Bosco has been recommending that arenas use better ventilation and filtration systems, which is easier to install in newer buildings with precise control systems.

“We have a better understanding of these buildings,” Bosco said, noting that he uses an equation to determine how much the virus could spread in a given location, and “as you start adding masks and ventilation, that risk drops.”

In fact, he said, the risk of getting Covid at the new UBS Arena could be as low as 10 percent with more people receiving the coronavirus vaccine and more aggressive cleaning practices.

“From hockey games to concerts and other live events,” Dr. K Elizabeth Hawk, a medical doctor who also assisted UBS officials in the design of the arena’s Covid-19 protocols, said in a statement, “UBS Arena will cultivate an inviting environment in which guests can connect and enjoy a memorable experience as they look to safely take advantage of the arena’s unique amenities.”

It is scheduled to open in October.