As states begin to slowly reopen, the question as to whether pools will open for the summer has become a hot topic. For states that have been hit hard with COVID-19, it is likely that public pools will remain closed for the rest of the summer. However, some states are permitting public and private pools to open/reopen for the summer months with strict guidelines.
Per the CDC’s website, “there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”
The CDC’s Water and Covid-19 FAQ website further stated that “it is important for individuals as well as owners and operators of these facilities to take steps to ensure health and safety: Everyone should follow local and state guidance that may determine when and how recreational water facilities may operate. Individuals should continue to protect themselves and others at recreational water venues both in and out of the water – for example, by practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene. In addition to ensuring water safety and quality, owners and operators of community pools, hot tubs, spas, and water play areas should follow the interim guidance for businesses and employers for cleaning and disinfecting their community facilities.”
The CDC has offered considerations to help keep public pools safe during COVID-19. The CDC considerations cover good hygiene, face coverings, adequate supplies, signs, cleaning and disinfecting, modified pool deck layouts, physical barriers and guides, safe and healthy operation of pool staff, and a preparedness policy for when someone gets sick.
For the states that are permitting public and private pools to reopen, strict guidelines are being set in place. Some examples of strict guidelines include:
- Reducing occupancy limits to permit one person to use the pool at a time regardless of pool size;
- Prohibiting gatherings of any size on pool decks, with the exception of parents/guardians for when minors are using the pool;
- Prohibiting the use of all outdoor pool furniture (pool furniture to be stacked/chained to render use unusable);
- Prohibiting the use of drinking fountains and showers;
- Social distancing measures;
- Requiring the use of face masks when not swimming;
- Hand washing/sanitization stations;
- Frequent sanitation of high touched areas such as hand rails, restroom surfaces, light switches, faucets, door knobs, gates, etc.; and
- Continuing to maintain pools in accordance with laws and regulations to ensure proper chemicals and safety measures.
Of course, as every state is implementing its own protectionary measures, it is vital that Cooperative Boards reach out to their Cooperative Attorney for assistance with interpreting Executive Orders with respect to opening/reopening pools
For Cooperatives, the reopening of the pool does not come without concerns. Such concerns include:
- Suspending of the Community Pool rules that are currently in place;
- Drafting of temporary pool rules complying with Government Mandates for pools due to COVID-19;
- Restrictions of member’s guests to use pool for health concerns;
- Opening of the pool by pool contractor;
- Obtaining chemicals;
- Ability to obtain and maintain pool cleaning chemicals;
- Enforcement issues of the temporary Community Pool rules due to COVID-19;
- Hiring of a Lifeguard or informing members to swim at own risk;
- Reducing pool occupancy to one swimmer at a time;
- Limiting the time frame that a member can use the pool;
- Keeping the pool deck, shower, and drinking fountains closed;
- Social distancing issues regarding members waiting to use pool; and
- Cleaning of surfaces that are regularly going to be used (i.e., doors, gates, pool handrail, etc.).
Cooperative Boards should work closely with their Cooperative Attorney to ensure that any temporary pool rule due to COVID-19 complies with local, county and state guidelines in addition to any and all guidelines and considerations set forth by the CDC.
Alyssa Gunsorek is an associate attorney with experience in contract negotiations. She has contributed articles for various publications including the MAHC Messenger, NAHC’s Housing Cooperative Quarterly, and Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak’s Cooperative Law Journal.