Addressing COVID-19 Exposure in Marinas

Addressing COVID-19 Exposure in Marinas

As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the United States in 2020, thousands of businesses were affected. Many businesses were forced to shut down, while others were deemed essential and continued operation. Marinas experienced their share of economic hurdles, although state and federal officials often allowed individuals to engage in outdoor activities, including boating. Marina insurance forms the foundation of risk management in marina operations. Understanding how to minimize COVID-19 exposure risks is another critical aspect of risk management. In this guide, we will share details on handing infection risks on marina properties.

Marina Operations During the Pandemic

Although marinas have not been considered essential businesses, many local municipalities allowed marinas to continue operation. Outdoor activities were deemed relatively safe by regulatory agencies and infection-control organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People took to the water to combat the boredom of quarantine orders and lockdowns. Because amusement parks and hotels were closed and travel restrictions were imposed, boating served as a viable recreational outlet. In fact, the boating industry experienced a sharp rise in interest, with boat manufacturers reporting difficulties in meeting consumer demands for new vessels. Some industry sectors saw sales increases approaching 75%.

Even as marinas continued operations, concerns about managing infection exposure risks to the SARS-CoV-2 virus meant that marina owners had to prepare safety strategies. Coupled with marina insurance, these safety and sanitation protocols help to minimize risks to marina facilities, staff, and guests.

Preventing COVID-19 Exposure & Infections in Marinas

The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines in early 2020 for business owners to help them address COVID-19 exposure risks. These guidelines were modified or expanded as research uncovered details about the virus and its transmission. For marina owners, several important guidelines stand out:

  • Requiring all staff members to wear masks when they cannot maintain social distancing guidelines.
  • Requiring marina visitors to wear masks when on marina grounds.
  • Implementing health checks or screenings of employees. Employees with COVID symptoms such as fevers or respiratory issues were to stay home to reduce the chances of spreading the virus. Only after negative tests are received should workers be allowed to return to the marina.
  • Improving sanitation and cleaning of high-touch areas or wherever staff and marina visitors congregate. This can include fueling stations, restrooms, common areas, and dining facilities.
  • Monitoring the news for updates and guidance from local, state, and federal health officials.

Marina owners and managers also worked to keep staff and marina guests safe with safety protocols put into place as a result of the pandemic. The National Marine Manufacturers Association and its “Discover Boating” website posted safety recommendations for marina owners to share with their boating guests. These recommendations include:

  • Boating with immediate family members only.
  • Discouraging “rafting” with other boats while on the water.
  • Maintaining social distancing at fueling stations, sewage pumpout locations, or anywhere else people gathered on marina properties.
  • Encouraging frequent handwashing both for marina guests as well as staff members.
  • Avoiding unnecessary contact with others during trips to and from the marina.

During the critical health risks imposed by COVID-19, the role of marina insurance was more important than ever. While these insurance policies do not specifically address virus risks, their protection against a wide range of operational liabilities has been invaluable. With the right marina insurance policy in place, adherence to COVID guidelines, and a renewed focus on workplace safety, marinas can continue operations without risking the health of staff members and marina guests.

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.