Northeast Whitewater Response to COVID-19: What to Expect in 2021
With our last trip of the 2020 season behind us, Northeast Whitewater is thankful that our business was proactive at the onsite of COVID-19 to develop strategies collectively with our core staff, the State of Maine and keep our doors open! Thanks to our loyal guests who put their trust in us, a stellar team who bought into our system to not only keep guides and staff safe, but to day-in-and-out keep our guests safe with new safety protocols that worked—like a Health Certification, pre-trip screening practices, enhanced cleaning procedures, and measures to maintain physical distancing—we were able to stay open, keep our guides and staff safe, with steady work, taking the best possible care of our outdoor loving guests during the COVID pandemic. COVID-19 taught us a lot. Now, that we have a better understanding, after keeping our guides and guests safe, 2021 we are even more prepared!
Needless to say, even with all the steps that we took to keep our guides and guests safe, and our doors open, it was an extremely challenging year at Northeast Whitewater. Every spring, we plan staff trainings, guide courses and Swiftwater rescue programs and 2020 didn’t allow for any of our outdoor instruction trainings that we integrate into new staff hiring processes to happen. So, with no new staff, thankfully our core guides and staff worked tirelessly and as anticipated were amazing. We are so proud to say that our wonderful adventurous guests and all of our dedicated guides, drivers, and support staff who joined us for our abbreviated 2020 season, no one contracted COVID-19 at Northeast Whitewater!!!
We recognize that at an uncomfortable time in all of our lives, making decisions to get outside with loved one’s was paramount in guests outdoor experiences in 2020. Thank you for trusting in us and letting Northeast Whitewater play a pivotal role in your Moosehead outdoor adventures this year. Now, that we do have a better understanding of all the things we did right, it helps to make planning for 2021 not so overwhelming. That’s why it’s the right time to talk more about our Northeast Whitewater Response to COVID-19.
Looking ahead to 2021
It’s our collective responsibility to keep each other safe with the ability to be in the Maine outdoors enjoying adventures together. Our COVID-19 plan is to allow our business to operate while keeping guests, guides and all of our staff members safe and healthy.
- Reservations: All reservations must be made in advance by phone or online and payment should be made in advance. We encourage electronic registration and signing of paperwork ahead of time through our online reservation system, to reduce unnecessary interpersonal contact.
- Personal Protective Equipment: Guests will be required to bring their own cloth or disposable face coverings. Guests must use a cloth or disposable face covering when social distancing cannot be maintained.
- At the pre-trip meeting
- When entering any building
- While traveling in trip vehicles
- While in flat-water sections between rapids in a paddle raft when six feet of physical distancing from other guests can’t be achieved
- When meeting someone for the first time, or when approaching another group on the river, waterways, trails and our campground
- While at lunch, when not eating
- Self-screening: All guests are asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and complete our Health Certification upon arrival.
- Physical Distancing: Guests that are not from the same household, must be able to comply with proper social distancing, and/or otherwise where a face covering.
Transportation of Guests
- Trip Vehicles: Buses and vans are cleaned and sanitized prior to each use. Groups shall be loaded and unloaded without the driver on board. Groups shall enter the trip vehicles from the front, side entrance and fill back to front, maintaining proper social distancing between individuals who are not from the same household. Everyone on our trip vehicles must wear face coverings, and the windows shall be down when possible.
- Check-in and check-out service: We will require proper social distancing by groups during check-in, check-out and payment processing. Guests will be provided access to hand washing and sanitizer during this process. Additionally, all point of sale terminals have plexiglass barriers between our staff and our guests for additional safety measures.
- Signage: Keep Maine Healthy signage is posted throughout our buildings on health guidelines established by the CDC for best practices to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Hand cleaning and sanitizer during trip: Guests will be provided access to disinfecting hand wipes or sanitizer during transportation to and from the river, as well as in each raft.
- Equipment: All equipment including, but not limited to rafts, paddles, and personal floatation devices is cleaned and sanitized prior to and after each use.
- Specific Guidance for Rafting on Whitewater and Calm Water: Extra caution is taken when close contact occurs while on the water. While face coverings are recommended to reduce the risk of viral transmission between individuals in public areas, face coverings are not compatible with rafting in whitewater conditions and could inhibit respiration while paddling or falling from the raft. Face coverings are not recommended for whitewater rafting in whitewater conditions and should only be worn when safe to do so as directed by the guide. Face coverings are used, during the launching and takeout process as well as non-whitewater sections of the river when social distancing cannot be accomplished. A “buff” or neck gaiter constitutes a face covering. We sell Northeast Whitewater buffs in our store! Northeast Whitewater also offers private rafts for your own party, with advance reservations.
Cleaning and Sanitation
- We have implemented additional cleaning and disinfecting practices, to include, but not limited to common surfaces at our facility, equipment, trip vehicle seats and high touch handles and surfaces.
- Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! There are opportunities to wash your hands at Northeast Whitewater, while on river trips with our hand washing stations and upon returning from all trips. Please wash your hands.
- If you have a trip credit from 2020, please reach out either via email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 207-695-0151, so that we can reschedule with you ASAP for 2021! As you can imagine, a high number of guests took the advantage of our trip credit program while it was available, and we expect a big rescheduling impact for 2021 to take place. We simply want to ensure that we have availability for you!
- At this time, our current refund & cancellation policy is in affect, otherwise.
Around the river bend
Outdoor experiences are life changing and much needed in our hectic day-to-day lives, and this couldn’t be more evident than right now. Guests are afforded the opportunity to reconnect with others and feel at ease for the first time since March 2020, when what truly was unprecedented – a global shutdown. That’s why our Northeast Whitewater Response to COVID-19 is so important for our guests to understand how much we care.
As we carefully plan for and scout out our 2021 season, we’ll continue to do what we do best. Through the guidance of our state agencies, health care experts, and collaboration with our colleagues, Northeast Whitewater will continue to offer the safest outdoor environment for our guests, guides and staff to enjoy life’s simple pleasures … and all that around Moosehead Lake Maine offers!
We hope you’ll join us for an adventure in 2021. Northeast Whitewater will be right here for you!
-Thoughtfully submitted by Jessica Hargreaves, Adventure Coordinator at Northeast Whitewater 207-695-0151