In a matter of days, our lives have changed drastically. More and more states are now issuing orders for all residents to stay home, with only few exceptions of essential activities, such as going grocery shopping and seeking medical care. While it is most definitely unfortunate that escape room companies, along with other non-essential businesses, are now temporarily closed in multiple states, we must maintain a clear perspective--this is for the best interest of our own health and society's as a whole. We must work together, practice social distancing with unity, in order to effectively combat the novel coronavirus that has wrecked havoc through our nation. No one is immune, even if you're young. Anyone can get seriously sick from COVID-19. And even if you're luckily asymptomatic, you could very well spread the infection to someone who may suffer a much graver consequence. Please take this seriously. Hence, if you want to survive this game--not an escape game, but very life itself--BE PREPARED AND STAY INFORMED. BE KIND AND TAKE GOOD CARE OF EACH OTHER. AND MOST OF ALL, REMAIN AT HOME AND BE SAFE!
If for where you reside, you have received official recommendation/order to stay away from public places as much as possible from authoritative sources, please comply as directed. Plan your visit another time when it is again deemed safe to do so. (Potentially support your local businesses via gift card purchases instead.) Remember, no matter what role you play in this community, it's nothing personal. Keep your spirits up!
I've been neglecting my blog soon after it was launched due to work (my real-world job, so to speak), but little did I expect my next post would be urgently prompted by a global pandemic.
As we all already know, currently we are dealing with a widespread viral outbreak. The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has been a serious health concern for people everywhere on the planet, and it's actively changing many aspects of our daily lives. For everyone in the escape room community, no matter owners, staff, or consumers, we are all affected.
While there is relatively little we can do now to "contain" the virus, there are many management options we can still exercise to mitigate the microbe's detrimental effects on our healthcare system and society as a whole. This is known as "flattening the curve", a realistic strategy in alleviating the burden on healthcare workers, and maximizing everyone's access to proper treatment when sick.
Wear a mask when out in public
So what does all this have to do with escape rooms?
Pre-crisis, escape room enthusiasts have little to think about when booking an hour of puzzle entertainment. Now, due to all escape room businesses' being in public areas, there is a legitimate concern of whether what is considered safe, and what is not. In addition, our decisions as customers and patrons during this time will directly impact on these often small businesses' survival.
Hence, this post.
I want to present as much information as possible to help guide others in deciding whether reserving an escape room appointment is in the best interest in YOUR life. I am not here to tell anyone what to do. There is no one blanket statement, a solution to all. Do your own research, use this post if you wish, and make good choices.
I am not publishing any of this as an expert of any pertainable field. I am writing this as a fellow escape room lover, in the format of a personal blog post, with my own personally gathered information and common sense, with everyone's best interests at heart. Your opinions may vary, and that's okay! Do what's most well suited for yourself, family, and friends. Together, as a team, we will get through this national emergency together.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE OLDER IN AGE, THOSE WHO CARE FOR THE OLDER, THOSE WHO ARE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED, OR THOSE WHO ARE AT HIGHER RISK OTHERWISE:
I would strongly recommend tight measures of "social distancing". Avoiding any public places, not just limited to escape rooms, is the common consensus for the time being. While your passion for escape room may be temporarily disrupted, I believe the industry is full of talents, surprises, and resilience. The rooms should be waiting for you after things have calmed down. Health and safety are your priorities.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE OTHERWISE YOUNG AND HEALTHY:
"Social distancing" is still the current recommended option as a concerted effort to help slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is a highly contagious agent, and staying home for even one day will assist in curbing its proliferation. If you choose to stay home for the time being, great! There is a variety of "at home escape room" board games on the market, so have a wonderful time solving puzzles in the safety of your own house.
*** Update: Before proceeding, please read updates at the beginning of this blog post. This is an ever-changing situation; we shall respond with flexibility and resilience.***
If you decide that booking an escape room is a viable option, by all means, practice all recommendations to make the experience as safe as possible, for you, your family, your friends, and the staff operating the business. (Always stay alert and informed; be flexible if circumstances change, and rescheduling becomes inevitable.)
Otherwise, here are my own personal tips for safer room escaping:
BEFORE YOU GO:
- Inquire/ensure that your business has heightened their sanitation effort in response to COVID-19
- When in doubt, call ahead and ask questions; businesses understand your concerns
- Only reserve private booking to minimize your contact with other strangers
- If any of your party appears sick, or displays signs/symptoms of respiratory illness, THEY SHOULD NOT GO
- Bring hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes with you to the venues for use during the game, if needed
- Alcohol based hand sanitizers, at least 60% or higher, are effective alternatives when used as directed
- Optionally, bring gloves (to avoid touching of surfaces) and masks (to prevent touching of your face)
WHEN YOU ARRIVE:
- Communicate with staff about available protections provided by the businesses that you can use
- Verbally confirm that your upcoming game has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to play
- Inquire if any of the puzzles involve close contact with your head or face, and ask if those can be skipped
- Wash your hands with warm water, soap, and proper techniques before your game
- Double check with your host to see which of your personal items can be used mid-game
- For instance, can you use sanitizers and wipes during your 1-hour adventure?
- Continually make usage of your safeguarding tools (sanitizers, etc) during your game play
- MOST IMPORTANTLY AND IDEALLY, keep all set pieces, props, and your own hands away from your face!
AFTER THE GAME:
- Immediately proceed to thoroughly wash your hands with warm running water and soap
- Thank your game master and staff for providing an enjoyable experience
- If possible, leave the premise and return straight home to minimize further contact with others
Wash your hands regularly
While these advice may sound extreme, especially when compared to our familiar daily routines, as the old adage goes, "Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures". The novel coronavirus pandemic is a serious health risk with grave gravity, and in all honesty, it deserves our utmost attention and correspondingly earnest response. (Get further useful information in chart forms here.)
Remember: while the virus and its potential health havoc may not pose an immediate or severe danger to your own health, you have the power to protect those around who are dear to you who ARE more likely to suffer. In fact, to me, every single citizen has the social obligation and responsibility to protect one another.
In closing, there is misinformation, panic, and chaos amidst of current events, and the best that we can do is to be educated, be informed, and to be kind and supportive to one another. My fellow enthusiasts, live your life cautiously but not fearfully, and stay safe and healthy!