Clear Communication and Preparedness: Q&A with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Kenneth Maguire
Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, has closed temporarily like many attractions in the United States, in response to the spread of the coronavirus, but took important precautions before closing, including preparing isolation rooms in the event of a guest or staff member showing signs of sickness on site.
The aquarium’s director of guest experience operations, Kenneth Maguire, shares the facility’s experience:
What precautions did your facility put in place to handle guests or staff showing signs of illness?
We took action to prevent the spread of the illness, including:
- Training and equipping our guest services staff, who have been given cleaning cloths and spray bottles of disinfectant to wipe down handrails, door handles, and other frequently touched surfaces as part of their rounds.
- Training staff on protection equipment when responding to a guest who is exhibiting signs of illness.
- Increased frequency of cleaning all public restrooms on an hourly basis.
- Adding more hand sanitizer dispensers for visitors at more locations throughout the aquarium.
- Disinfecting all public areas at night after the Aquarium closes.
- Conducting deep cleaning of the Aquarium’s out-buildings.
- Temporarily closing interpretive stations.
- Monitoring and limiting staff travel.
- Established designated isolation rooms equipped with HEPA air purifiers and/or appropriate HVAC ventilation from preexisting rooms.
How did you communicate the availability of these services?
- Posted a banner on our website sharing our operational status and the current prevention measures we are taking.
- Communicated with staff via e-mail and at regular departmental/divisional meetings and will post updates on our intranet site.
- Prepared talking points for staff to communicate to visitors about the increased sanitation efforts we have implemented.
- Prepared our sales staff to field questions from visitors and shared updates via email with education groups and our volunteers.
How did you prepare staff to handle potential situations related to COVID-19?
We worked closely with the local health agencies, first responders, and our own security team to ensure proper response to a guest exhibiting Flu/COVID-19 symptoms. We discussed our response to the situation at morning briefings with all of our teams and ensured all staff and volunteers are speaking from the same talking points.
What other preventative measures has your facility put in place?
- Increased the number of hand sanitizing stations throughout the aquarium and staff spaces.
- Increased the frequency of wiping down handrails, door handles, interpretive panels and other high-touch areas, and worked with our partners and vendors to ensure proper and increased sanitation efforts.
- Ensured that we have a three-month supply of critical supplies on-hand and are monitoring the supply chain for these items.
- Prepared for all scenarios including possible closure.
- Our Incident Management Team is meeting daily.
- Made arrangements for staff to work remotely.
- Developed a communications plan for each scenario.
What have you learned that would be valuable for others in the industry to know?
Open and full transparent communication with our teams in regard to best practices and what we are currently doing to help the staff feel informed and that we are looking out for them. It is also important to share that communication with vendors.
For more information and tips on managing the impact of the coronavirus and COVID-19, visit IAAPA's resource page.