This is the third of four articles covering American Pool’s response to COVID-19 reopenings. We encourage you to read our other articles found here:
It’s true that the pool will look less crowded this year, but there are a number of good reasons for that. When done properly, social distancing helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the pool area and, in turn, saves lives.
Managing your pool area’s social distancing measures might seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary to get your pool open this season. It’s going to be worth it, especially during those hot summer days!
Entrances & Exits
Proper social distancing begins before patrons ever set foot in your facility. Paths to your entrances should have distinct markings at least 6 feet apart to outline where patrons should stand in line.
If your pool has a pass system, make sure pool passes are easily visible for gate attendants at a 6-foot distance. Whichever method you choose should also comply with local health ordinances. Your swimming pool management professionals should be able to connect you to cost-effective, cloud-based reservation systems to initiate pool time schedules. Other ideas include larger printouts or wristbands.
Layout & Facility Capacity
An effective social distancing protocol means your pool won’t be able to accommodate the 100% capacity it was originally designed for. The CDC does not provide a specific capacity limit for pools, so you’ll need to work with your local health authorities and consult with your pool professionals to determine the right number.
But knowing how many people you can accept at one time is only half the battle. You’ll also need to establish a method for how you’re going to enforce capacity. Some ideas are:
- First come, first serve: unlimited time
- First come, first serve: maximum time
- Reservations or sign-up blocks via scheduling software
- Odd/Even days based on address number
Pool goers and parties need to maintain the 6-foot distance at all times, both on deck and in the water. You’ll need to designate staff to enforce the social distance rules, but we’ll get to that in a minute. For now, here’s some methods to make it easier on those staff members:
- Set capacities for bathrooms and showers. You may need to close off every other stall and sink.
- Mark off deck sections with tape or rope to remind patrons and groups to stay 6 feet apart (required for bring-your-own-furniture policies)
AND / OR
- Group deck tables and umbrellas to comply with social distancing
- Number deck spaces or furniture sets so that they can be reserved through your designated system.
You and your staff should figure out the best strategy to monitor and uphold your new capacity regulations. As a general rule, expect some children (and, let’s face it, adults) to be incapable of following these procedures alone.
The CDC advises that on-duty lifeguards not focus on enforcing the social distance policies, since that gets in the way of their rescue and monitor roles. Instead, designate another staff member to enforce social distancing. This may require hiring additional staff, booking extra shifts, and/or hiring an extra gate attendant.