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Pool Safety and Social Distancing: Frequently Asked Questions and Recommendations

Q. I want to reopen my pool. Are there any standards for social distancing to be followed?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come up with Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs and Water Playgrounds During COVID-19. Staying 6 feet apart, wearing a mask when not in water, and washing hands frequently are some of the major recommendations for staff as well as pool users.
Many state and local jurisdictions have also included a 50% capacity restriction in the pools due to COVID-19.

Q. How can I inform pool users about the reduced pool capacity?

Social Distancing Pool Capacity Signs will come to your rescue. Signs with messages like “Only 1 Swimmer Per Lane” and “To Ensure Social Distancing We Are Limiting the Number of Persons in the Pool” can be posted. Custom signs can be used which allow you to print a specific number of people who can use the pool at any given time. Writeable signs are also a great option to mention maximum occupancy.

Q. How can we make our pools safer against the Coronavirus?

Some ways to make pools safer are:
- Minimize the number of swimmers or people socializing on the pool deck
- Encourage members to bring their own chairs, towels, and pool equipment
- Use physical barriers to enforce social distancing
- Clean restrooms frequently
- Store enough supplies like soap, hand sanitizers, tissues & no-touch trash cans
- Post pool social distancing signs around the deck to encourage 6-feet distance, wear masks, and sanitize hands
- Hire a security guard to prevent congregation and enforce these rules

Q. How should new pool procedures be communicated to residents?

Pool owners should have sufficient signage around the pool with new procedures. Best places to post signs are pool entrances, deck area, and sink area because these are highly visible locations. Additionally, you can make announcements on public announcement systems, and send emails, on websites, and social media.

Q. Is it safe to use public pools during a pandemic situation?

According to CDC, so far no evidence has been found that SARS-Cov-2, the virus causing COVID-19, can spread through water, whether in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Moreover, it has been reported that water disinfection with chlorine or bromine will inactivate the virus. However, public pool owners should check with local authorities in the area if they have permission to start the pool service. Safe swimming practices should be followed and surfaces should be frequently disinfected.

Q. How to calculate the reduced pool capacity for effective social distancing in the pool?

Calculation of pool capacity depends on whether the pool is indoors or outdoors, the depth of the pool, local ordinances and other factors.
Most outdoor pools are allowed to reopen with 50% capacity, and they need to maintain social distancing of 6 feet between groups not from the same family.
For this, Bather Load capacity for pools, whirlpools, or spas at your facility should be calculated first. Normally a health department calculates Maximum Bather Load as 1 person for every 15 square feet pool where the depth is less than 5 ft. and 1 person for every 20 square feet pool where the depth is more than 5 ft., then subtract 300 sq. ft. for each diving board.
Simply reduce your Maximum Bather Load to 50% to get your new reduced capacity. For example: If your pool had a Maximum Bather Load of 250, the new Social Distancing Capacity would be 125 people (250 x 50%).