High Sierra Pools continues to monitor COVID-19 developments, state and local guidelines and CDC recommendations. The purpose of this information is to provide overarching guidance for operating an outdoor summer pool in the era of COVID-19. Using this guidance, a pool can subsequently develop their own operations plan based on their unique circumstances. Below are suggestions pools can use during phase 1 and phase 2 to mitigate the risk of spreading this disease while adhering to federal and state mandates. This is not intended to be a standard operating procedure that every pool adapts verbatim.
It is understood that there is no current evidence that COVID-19 spreads through pool water itself within properly maintained aquatic venues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, there are many opportunities for COVID-19 to spread directly between patrons in the deck area, pool enclosure, bathrooms, and other areas of the swimming pool facility
Pool users should be made aware that while pools are taking extreme measures to ensure their safety, they assume an inherent risk while visiting a public pool during a pandemic. Open air, chlorine, disinfecting, and social distancing are all helpful to reduce risk, but the virus remains among us.
Pools should consider having a liability waiver signed by each family prior to their first visit to the pool.
Pools should screen patrons for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the facility. Patrons should be asked if they are currently experiencing fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or a sense of having a fever, a new cough that cannot be attributed to another health condition, new shortness of breath that cannot be attributed to another health condition, new chills that cannot be attributed to another health condition, a new sore throat that cannot be attributed to another health condition, or new muscle aches that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity (such as physical exercise). Anyone experiencing symptoms should not be permitted in the facility. Screenings should be conducted in accordance with applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
When someone gets sick
To prepare for when someone gets sick, each facility should have a plan to immediately separate staff, patrons, or swimmers with COVID-19 symptoms (for example, fever, cough, or shortness of breath) and to immediately notify local health officials, staff, patrons, and swimmers of any case of COVID-19. Plan should also include steps to inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. Cleaning and Disinfection – Closing off areas used by a sick person and not using the areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them. Waiting more than 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting these areas.
Covid-19 Specific Requirements
Pools shall adhere to COVID-19 related published guidelines and implement the best practices (1-6). At a minimum, the pool owner shall do the following:
Educate residents, members, guests, patrons, invitees, and swimming pool facility users about the CDC guidelines.
Require Social distancing at the pool area by reducing bather load.
Control access to the pool area to avoid crowds forming at the entrance.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Require cloth or plastic face coverings or have a face mask policy.
Limit pool actives that conflict with social distancing.
Any Lifeguard(s) who are actively lifeguarding are not expected to monitor or enforce any of the COVID-19 guidelines such as hand washing, use of cloth or plastic face coverings (masks), cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, or social distancing between pool members, guests, patrons, invitees and swimming pool facility users. Any monitoring or enforcement of the COVID-19 guidelines should be the sole responsibility of the pool owner.
Best Practice 1 – POOL SIGNAGE
Pools shall post specific COVID-19 relevant warnings in the form of signs and posters throughout pool facility to include the following:
The danger of contracting COVID-19 exists if you choose to enter this facility and you assume the risk of the use of the swimming pool facility.
DO NOT enter this facility if you have a cough, fever, or other symptoms of illness.
Maintain at least six (6) feet between you and any other people who are not part of your household.
Wear a face covering when you are not actively swimming or in the pool/spa water.
Washing or disinfecting your person, your hands, and any property or objects which you use or bring into this facility are your responsibility.
Best practice 2 – POOL SOCIAL DISTANCING
Pools shall limit the number of pool patrons inside the pool area at any one time to adhere to current social distancing guidelines. The suggested method to calculate a new Maximum Bather Load assumes that, for space calculation purposes, there will be a single lounge chair (or person), not less than 6’ of space in all directions to the next single chair (or person). This calculation results in one person for every 101 square feet of pool deck, assuming that a typical lounge chair is 2.5 ft. x 7 ft. Measure the usable pool deck (where chairs can be placed) and divide by 101 sq. ft. If a pool had usable deck space of 3,000 sq. ft., the Social Distancing Capacity would be 29 people (3,000/101).
Different jurisdictions may use alternate methods to calculate maximum patron limits, such as of 25% standard capacity, or similar.
Best practice 3 – ACCESS TO THE POOL
It is likely that limiting access to the pool will cause crowds of people at the pool gates waiting to use the pool. HSP recommends the use of lines to keep social distancing. HSP also suggests that users of the swimming pool facility have staggered use times. HSP strongly suggests use of a reservation app that would create an online scheduling platform to allows residents to reserve a time at the pool to assist with social distancing and to help avoid crowds. In absence of a reservation solution – or in addition to – HSP suggests that pools may have an employee/volunteer to manage entry and exit of the pool area on a “first-come, first-served basis.” That same staff member may also monitor/enforce social distancing and additionally perform other COVID-19 related cleaning requirements beyond the cleaning required.
Best practice 4 – DISINFECTING FREQUENTLY TOUCHED SURFACES AT POOL
“Clean and disinfect all common use and frequently touched surfaces regularly (recommended every 2 hours), including surfaces in locker rooms, decks, ladder railings, diving boards, and railings. Any common furniture equipment (chairs) must be disinfected after each use. Clean these areas first with soap and water; then, disinfect with an approved chemical. There is a list of EPA-registered “disinfectant” products for COVID-19 (on this Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 link) that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, which is the corona virus that causes COVID-19.”
The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces outside of the pool water for days without regular disinfection. Pool patrons may become infected by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. This presents one of the greatest concerns for COVID-19 transmission at pool and spa facilities. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and shared objects is recommended each time they are used.
These surfaces include but are not limited to: pool furniture, tabletops, door handles, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, showers, restroom doors, faucets, sinks, soap and paper towel dispensers, toilet flush levers. An EPA registered disinfectant should be applied to such surfaces after removing any gross soil/dirt/grease/buildup in accordance with product label directions. It is important that gross soil/dirt be removed first for the disinfectant product to kill viruses effectively.
Best practice 5 – USE OF FACE MASKS AT POOL
Pools shall require all pool users and patrons to wear face coverings when they are not actively swimming or in the pool water. This will apply to all pool patrons in deck areas, bathrooms, showers, and other common use areas outside of the water. Swimming with a face covering could present a drowning hazard and should be prohibited.
Best practice 6 – POOL ACTIVITIES AT POOL
The pool shall implement policies that adhere to COVID-19 guidelines that group games such as water volleyball, water basketball and others which involve multiple people interacting in proximity are prohibited until guidelines allow.