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Gay Saunas Taking Coronavirus Precautions

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Last weekend, gay Sydney sauna 357 introduced mandatory temperature testing for everyone wanting to enter as part of measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

“Every client on entry has their temperature tested,” owner Ty Dovans said. “We tell each client on entry when they come to the counter.

“If they refuse, we don’t allow them in — except nobody has refused, everyone has been very supportive and happy. That’s every single client, besides one on our Facebook page.”

As of March 9, there have been 80 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including three deaths, in Australia, according to the Department of Health. This includes 40 in NSW, 12 in Queensland and eight in Victoria.

Initially, 15 cases reported in Australia all had a direct or indirect travel history to Wuhan, China. More recently, 18 cases, including two deaths, don’t have a reported history of overseas travel.

Of the 80 Australian cases, 22 are reported to have recovered.

In Victoria, the management of the sauna group including Wet on Wellington at Collingwood, Bay City Sauna at Elsternwick and Peninsula Spa and Sauna and Shed 16 at Seaford have introduced more rigorous cleaning regimes.

“In terms of our procedures, we’ve implemented stricter cleaning and disinfectant of surfaces on a more regular basis as per our staff notice two weeks ago,” assistant general manager Warren Tse said.

Directions to staff include disinfecting flat surfaces, food areas, fridges, cafe area, bar tops, tables and chairs, door handles, toilets, toilet doors, toilet taps, lockers, seats, computers and handrails. Also, instructions to wash hands and wear gloves.

357’s Ty Dovans continued: “It’s nice that DNA has reached out about this. It seems to be the pink elephant in the room nobody has spoken about. We’ve owned 357 for 18 years and this is going to be the hardest time for all of us.”

357 has also put up health posters urging clients to wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes and stay away when sick.

“Our responsibility must be to ensure nobody with a fever enters our venue. A sauna is a place to escape the world and our problems and to feel safe. We need to have this space.

“Today I walked through our street and it was empty. There was ample parking and basically a dozen people. It’s scary. I don’t know what else to say. We all have to help each other. We need these places to meet and relax and get off.”

Aarows gay and bi sauna at Rydalmere in Western Sydney has also introduced strict temperature testing of all clients.

Entry is refused for “those showing any symptoms, including a body temperature higher than 38 degrees Celsius measured before entry,” the management team said.

Other measures include:

  • Notices throughout reminding customers to practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and promoting cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene;
  • Coronavirus information at the ACON information display on the ground floor;
  • Alcohol-based hand-sanitisers at the kiosk counter;
  • Setting air-conditioning on all three levels to fresh air; and
  • Preventative cleaning of frequently touched surfaces including door handles, light switches, hand-rails, lube and soap dispensers, wash basins and taps, toilet flush buttons and locker keys.

“Customers are also encouraged to report anyone showing symptoms to staff so an assessment can be made,” management said. “Aarows takes the health and safety of its customers and staff very seriously.”

All gay saunas in Sydney and Melbourne were contacted for comment for this story. Those who so far responded have been quoted.

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