The unexpected challenges of COVID-19 delayed but far from diminished our 2020 season at Sierra South. Like many business, it was a struggle to reopen. Our niche industry required extra attention to detail and convincing of local, state, and national officials that rafting could be done in a safe way. While creating a new operating procedure that would protect both our guests and guides, we utilized all the resources we could muster. The foundation of our plan for 2020, and our plan for 2021, is based on the following; stay up to date on the latest legal guidelines and best moral practices, be adaptive with strategies as new information is presented, be honest with our guest about exactly what we are doing, follow through on our promises to guests and guides, continue to engage in dialog within our staff and other outfitters around the country to ensure our practices are the best practices.
It makes us extremely happy to report that in 2020, no members of the Sierra South staff tested positive for COVID-19, nor experienced symptoms during the season. No guests that joined Sierra South reported a positive test in the weeks following a trip. This massive accomplishment would not have been possible without the willingness of our guests to adapt to our new policies. We would like to sincerely thank our guests for making 2020 a safe and successful season. It was uncertain what type of interest people would have in rafting and climbing during 2020. Turns out the interest in California and around the country was staggering! Recreating in the outdoors has not seen this type of popularity since post WWII. We are so pleased to be apart of this movement, and are thrilled to continue to guide people in our favorite places in the Kern River Valley in 2021!
We are committed to creating an environment where all of our guests and employees can feel comfortable during their time with Sierra South Mountain Sports this summer. Additional protocols and procedures have been added to several parts of our operation, while many others were already in practice. Here is what you can expect.
- Screening Health of Employees – We will require sick employees to stay home. Any employee with Covid symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath) will be asked to stay home until all symptoms are gone and a negative covid test is provided. Sierra South has a thermometer on-site for employees to regularly check their own temperature. Employees will also have access to local testing in the Kern River Valley. Any employee who tests positive for Covid-19 will not be permitted to work until cleared by Kern County Public Health.
- Pre-Screening Health of the Guests – If guests have recently come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, or if they are experiencing any symptoms associated with Covid-19 within the past 14 days, please do not come on your trip.
- If a guest arrives at Sierra South and is showing Covid symptoms, we will ask them not to join our trip.
PPE and Hand Washing
- Masks – All Sierra South employees will be required to wear a mask when within six feet of another person. Guests will also be strongly encouraged to wear a mask on our premises and during transportation. This policy will not be enforced while on the river due to safety concerns. We strongly encourage guests to bring there own cloth masks to wear as needed except while actually rafting. All participants can store there mask in a pocket while rafting.
- Washing Hands – Employees and guests will be encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day. Employees and guests will have ample access to hand sanitizer and/or hand-washing stations throughout the day.
- Contactless Waivers – Guests will be required to fill out waivers online before arriving. Please see your trip confirmation email for more details. If guests forget, we will instruct them to do so on their phones.
- Contactless Check-in – All check-ins will be done outside, with an emphasis on physical distancing. When guests are checked in, they will be provided with space to wait.
- No Overlapping Trips – Only one trip will check in at a time at our outpost, with a minimum of an hour between trips. This will allow us to provide enough space for groups and give our staff an opportunity to disinfect.
- Trip Briefing – The Trip Leader will clearly outline the steps that have been taken to ensure our gear has been disinfected, while also explaining the expectations of physical distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitizing throughout the trip.
- Gear – All rafting equipment will be cleaned and disinfected after every trip. This includes life jackets, wetsuits, helmets, paddles, and boats. Life Jackets, paddles, wetsuits, and helmets will face a deeper sanitization process.
- Physical Distancing – We will maintain six-foot physical distancing during all instructional talks at the river. Sierra South rafts hold a maximum of six guests and one guide. Each raft will contain only people who reserved together. This will allow individual groups to remain separated without co-mingling.
- Transportation – Sierra South will be reducing the capacity on all vehicles. We will separate and load groups on the vehicles. Please be patient with loading and unloading. The windows will remain open during transport. We have additional disposable masks and hand sanitizer on all vehicles. All employees will be wearing masks and we will encourage our guests to do the same. Vehicles will be cleaned before and after each use using a disinfectant. Bus loading will be from the back-to-front to maintain distancing.
- Groups – Group sizes will be reduced to maintain proper social distancing.
Meal Preparation-Physical Distance Lunch by the river
In addition to our existing food handlers certifications, and sanitation procedures, Sierra South will institute any new food service standards requested. We will pre-package sandwiches. We will be eating outside on trips. We will choose beach locations by the river that will easily allow guests/groups to maintain 6ft physical distance. Guides will wear gloves and masks while handing out wrapped sandwiches and canned drinks. We will provide hand sanitizer on the lunch table. We will serve one raft at a time. We already encourage customers to bring their own water bottles.
In addition to all our guides being certified in First Aid and CPR, each will receive additional training on protocols to follow in case of any health issues that may arise. We will stay abreast of any CDC guidelines and institute them as they become available.
Sunlight & Fresh Air in the Outdoors
The naturally disinfecting qualities of UV sunlight combined with the open spaces of the outdoors make our tours a particularly well-suited option for enjoyable, safely-run activities.