Aquatic Facilities & COVID-19

 

Virginia Recreation and Parks Society-hosted Phase 3 webinar with VDH: recording available here

VDH Guidance for Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Aquatic Facilities; Phase One 

Scope: Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Treated Recreational Waters

Businesses must strictly adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, and enhanced workplace safety practices provided in the “Guidelines for All Business Sectors” document as well as any restrictions for Exercise Facilities prescribed in Executive Order 61

Phase One only allows outdoor lap swimming pools to reopen with one person per lane. 

Facilities are encouraged to designate a person-in charge to monitor all activities occurring in or around the swimming facility. On-duty lifeguards should not be cleaning, stocking supplies or monitoring physical distancing and maximum capacity parameters. While on duty as a lifeguard, these individuals must be assigned 100% to lifeguard duties.

Require employees to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth; refer to CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement. If six feet of physical distance is not possible in a given business setting, employers must provide face covering to employees, utilizing the aforementioned CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. 

Swimming and Water Activity Areas That Are Not Allowed to Re-open in Phase One 

  • Social gatherings and sporting events are not allowed. 
  • Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, interactive play features, saunas, and all water play areas are to remain closed.
  • Recreational swimming  (as opposed to exercise) is not allowed. 
  • Indoor pools must remain closed.
  • Pools can not be opened for activities other than lap swimming.
  • Congregation areas around the lap pool should not be allowed.
  • Seating in pool areas must be closed.

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

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 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

                   

 Other Resources

Virginia Recreation and Parks Society- hosted webinar featuring Q&A with VDH about Phase 1 in aquatics facilities

Aquatic facilities

VDH Guidance for Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Aquatic Facilities; Phase Two 

Scope: Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Treated Recreational Waters

Businesses must strictly adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, and enhanced workplace safety practices provided in the “Guidelines for All Business Sectors” document as well as any restrictions for Exercise Facilities prescribed in Executive Order 65. 

  • Phase Two allows indoor and outdoor pools to open. Activities allowed include lap swimming with 3 swimmers per lane, diving, and exercise classes with participants spaced 10’ from each other. All participants in pool activity must be 10’ from other participants to the greatest extent possible, and 10’ from other patrons not of their household while on deck. Incidental passing of swimmers sharing lanes is acceptable.
  • Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, interactive play features, saunas, and all water play areas are to remain closed.
  • Recreational swimming (as opposed to exercise; free swim) is not allowed. 
  • Pools can not be opened for activities other than lap swimming, swim instruction,diving, or other exercise (aquarobics, facilitated fun with stationary participants observing physical distancing). Swim instruction participants must maintain 10’ distancing from other participants.
  • Seating in pool areas may open with 10’ of physical distancing between seating groups. Patrons may sit around the pool (i.e. all patrons are not required to participate in swimming activities).
  • Facilities 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.

Facilities are encouraged to designate a person-in charge to monitor all activities occurring in or around the swimming facility. On-duty lifeguards should not be cleaning, stocking supplies or monitoring physical distancing and maximum capacity parameters. While on duty as a lifeguard, these individuals must be assigned 100% to lifeguard duties.

Require employees to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth; refer to CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement. If six feet of physical distance is not possible in a given business setting, employers must provide face covering to employees, utilizing the aforementioned CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. 

If heat exhaustion is a concern for lifeguards, facilities are encouraged to create barriers between lifeguard stands and patrons to ensure at least 10’ of spacing between the lifeguard and all patrons to allow them to remove their mask for heat-related health reasons. 

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  Exercise increases exhalation and the force of exhalation, so physical distancing of 10’ between those exercising or recovering from exercise is required. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

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 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

 

Scope: Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Treated Recreational Waters

Businesses must strictly adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, and enhanced workplace safety practices provided in the “Guidelines for All Business Sectors” document. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools must either implement the following mandatory requirements or remain closed. If businesses choose to open, they must adhere to the additional requirements below for outdoor operations. 

  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment. 
  • Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding physical distancing, gatherings, options for high-risk individuals, and staying home if sick (samples at bottom of this document).  
  • Hot tubs, spas, saunas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features, except slides, must remain closed. Lazy Rivers may operate if tubing is disinfected between uses and the facility can ensure physical distancing in the river feature.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may be open at up to 75% occupancy (when the facility has a certificate of occupancy), provided ten feet of physical distance may be maintained between patrons not of the same household. Free swim is allowed. 
  •  Swimming instruction and water exercise classes must be limited to allow all participants to maintain ten feet of physical distance where practicable. Parents or guardians may support a participant during class, and instructors may have contact with swimmers when necessary. 
  • Seating may be provided on pool decks with at least ten feet of spacing between persons who are not members of the same household.
  • All seating (including lifeguard stations) must be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  •   Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth, such as using CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement. 
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations, including at the entrance/exit and where shared equipment is utilized. 
  • Facilities 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). Children should be screened per the CDC guidance for screening children. Anyone experiencing symptoms should not be permitted in the facility. Screenings should be conducted in accordance with applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.

For public pools, in-ground spas, and hot tubs the CDC strongly encourages maintenance steps to prevent the growth of Legionella and other bacteria during extended closures of pools/ hot tubs/spas. Extended closures can create favorable growth conditions when there is a failure to maintain water quality standards or properly close the pool. An improperly-closed hot tub near a lap pool may also contaminate the air with Legionella.  See CDC guidance here.

Lap pools should be disinfected with appropriate chemicals at concentrations recommended by the manufacturer and in accordance with state and federal guidelines. The Code of Virginia Regulations Governing Tourist Establishment Swimming Pools and Other Public Pools, 12 VAC 5-462-290. Water Quality Standards requires that free chlorine and bromine residuals, pH values, and temperature are  maintained within the following ranges:

Water Quality Standards
Free Residual Disinfectant Minimum Maximum
Chlorine 1.0 ppm 3.0 ppm
Bromine 2.0 ppm 4.0 ppm
pH 7.2 7.8
Temperature none 104° Fahrenheit

(40° Celsius)

(Heated Pools Only)

The Code of Virginia Regulations Governing Tourist Establishment Swimming Pools and Other Public Pools, 12 VAC 5-462, require a chemical disinfectant residual to be measured once a day and posted in a visible location. There is no requirement to increase disinfectant residual testing at aquatic facilities. Operators may choose to increase frequency of measurement to facilitate efficient and effective disinfection and to better manage bather volumes. Local Ordinances may apply. 

Updated 8/6/20