State Issues Swimming Pool Guidelines to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

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The state’s Economic Recovery Group issued safety guidelines for swimming pools to “reduce exposure to individuals and surfaces that may result in COVID-19 exposure.”  These guidelines are intended for any indoor or outdoor aquatic venue or facility, including community, members-only, housing complex, hotel, waterpark, and exercise facility swimming pools.

Executive orders from the governor and/or local orders in six counties with a locally run county health department (Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby, and Sullivan) continue to limit group sizes for participation in social and recreational gatherings and require persons or groups of certain sizes to maintain separation from other persons or groups outside their own group. Venues should be mindful of applicable orders and ensure that their operations facilitate compliance with them.

Here’s a look at some of the guidelines. View the entire list here.

Consumer Protection

  • Screen visitors for illness upon their entry to the pool:
    Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer in addition to screening questions. Customers with temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be permitted on premise.
    Minimum: Post signage listing symptom questions and/or conduct direct screening of customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms:
    Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
    Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
  • Strongly encourage (or at operator’s discretion, require) visitors to wear cloth face coverings according to CDC guidance when in close proximity with others; however, advise those wearing face coverings to not wear them in the water, as doing so could make it difficult to breathe
  • Limit the number of guests on premises or in the pool at a given time if appropriate spacing (at least 6 feet) between persons cannot be maintained, as density of people increases opportunity for virus transmission. Utilize reserved entries for specific blocks of time or consider a limited number of admissions per day. Small groups of household members or acquaintances may be in closer proximity but should be appropriately spaced from other persons or groups. Large gatherings offer more opportunities for person-to-person contact and therefore pose greater risk of COVID-19 transmission
  • Minors must have direct parental supervision and are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines
  • Encourage visitors to avoid water fountains. Consider alternatives to offer drinking water (e.g., single-serve options, bottled water) or encourage customers to bring their own water

Employee Protection

  • Daily screen all staff reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms with the following questions:
    Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the past 14 days? (Note: does not apply to healthcare workers equipped with proper PPE)
    Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
    Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
    Have you had new loss of taste or smell?
    Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
  • Temperature screening staff:
    Best practice: employers to take staff temperatures on-site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival at work
    Minimum: temperatures can be taken before arriving. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit

Business Process Adaptation

  • Modify layouts of deck chairs and tables to ensure at least 6 feet of separation between families or small groups of acquaintances
  • Provide physical reminders for social distancing (e.g., lane lines in pool, non-slip markings on deck, signs, or audio reminders)
  • Implement cleaning and disinfecting practices for locker rooms and frequently touched surfaces at least daily and more frequently for shared objects such as handrails, deck chairs and tables, water fountains, and pool toys. Consider temporarily removing shared pool toys.
  • Limit group sizes of aquatic fitness classes, swim lessons, swim practices, or gatherings. Group games such as water volleyball, which involve multiple people interacting in close proximity, should be avoided for the time being. Consider limiting the number of participants and spectators for swim competitions unless social distancing can be maintained
  • Pools should maintain a guest or visitor log to facilitate any need for contact tracing. Where possible, maintain visitor contact information for up to 30 days in order to assist public health officials in the event necessary. If an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 has been present at the facility, facilities should work with local health authorities regarding continued operations
  • Consider establishing a “guest flow” plan, including managing queues and making walkways or stairways one-way or clearly divided for bi-directional travel. Include appropriate directional signs/markers
  • Temporarily close areas of the pool not conducive to social distancing, such as hot tubs and saunas, as density of people within a confined area increases opportunity for virus transmission. Avoid opening playgrounds and high-contact water play areas (e.g., splashpads) until advisable
  • Use barriers (“sneeze guards”) at ticket windows and point of sale stations; clean such barriers regularly (every two hours and when visibly dirty)
  • Use separate designated entrance and exit points to the facility to manage customer ingress and egress (while maintaining appropriate availability of emergency/fire exits), when possible. If lines form or are anticipated, ensure 6 or more feet of separation between persons or groups by using ground markings
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