On May 28, 2021, the mitigation strategies (reduced occupancy, social distancing, disinfection, etc.) previously required by Executive Order 72 are no longer mandatory for aquatic facilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Visit the VDH masking page for the most current mask recommendations and requirements. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, masks should not be worn in the water, as wet masks are unsafe for the wearer. Aquatic facilities may elect to institute mask wearing policies for employees or patrons that are not in the water, as well as to continue any other previously-mandated mitigation strategies in place prior to May 28.
Scope: Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Treated Recreational Waters
Until May 28, 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. If businesses choose to open, they must adhere to the following additional requirements for outdoor operations:
- Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, a positive diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19 in the prior ten days, 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).
- Facilities that operate water slides must ensure physical distancing of at least ten feet between patrons who are not members of the same Family as defined in Executive Order 72 while waiting in line to use the slide.
- Outdoor and indoor swimming pools may be open, provided occupancy is limited to no more than 75 percent of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy and all swimmers maintain at least ten feet of physical distance from others who are not Family members as defined in Executive Order 72. 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 six feet of spacing between persons who are not members of the same Family as defined in Executive Order 72.
- Employees are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth in accordance with CDC guidance while working at their place of employment. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement.
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons entering into the place of employment with a place to wash their hands. This is particularly important when patrons are using shared equipment that is not easily cleaned or disinfected between use (e.g. slide ladders, climbing rope, exercise bands). If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers. Additional hand hygiene requirements for Virginia employees and employers can be found in the Department of Labor and Industry’s Final Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19. Further hand hygiene guidance can be found on the CDC website. A CDC training video is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html.
- Screen patrons for COVID-19 symptoms, a positive diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19 in the prior ten days, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the 14 days prior to admission to the venue/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|
(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.