Coronavirus

Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds During COVID-19

As public aquatic venues open in some areas, CDC offers the following considerations for the safety of those who operate, manage, and use public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds. Public aquatic venues can be operated and managed by: City or county governments Apartment complexes Membership clubs (for example, gyms) Schools Waterparks Homeowners’ associations All…

As public aquatic venues open in some areas, CDC offers the following considerations for the safety of those who operate, manage, and use public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds.

Public aquatic venues can be operated and managed by:

  • City or county governments
  • Apartment complexes
  • Membership clubs (for example, gyms)
  • Schools
  • Waterparks
  • Homeowners’ associations

All decisions about implementing these considerations should be made locally, in collaboration with local health officials. Operators of public aquatic venues can consult with local officials to determine if and how to implement these considerations while adjusting them to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local jurisdiction. Their implementation should also be informed by what is feasible, practical, and acceptable.

Promoting behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19

Public aquatic venues can consider different strategies to encourage healthy hygiene, including:

Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

  • Encouraging all staff, patrons, and swimmers to wash their hands often and cover their coughs and sneezes.

Masks

  • Encouraging the use of masks as feasible. Masks are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult.
    • Advise those wearing masks to not wear them in the water. Masks can be difficult to breathe through when they’re wet.

Staying home

  • Educating staff, patrons, and swimmers about when to stay home (for example, if they have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days) and when they can safely end their home isolation.

Adequate supplies

  • Ensure you have accessible sinks and enough supplies for people to clean their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes. Supplies include soap, a way to dry hands (e.g., paper towels, hand dryer), tissues, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer), and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans (preferably covered).

Signs and messages

Maintaining healthy environments

To maintain healthy environments, operators of public aquatic venues may consider:

Cleaning and disinfection

  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects each time they are used. For example:
    • Handrails, slides, and structures for climbing or playing
    • Lounge chairs, tabletops, pool noodles, and kickboards
    • Door handles and surfaces of restrooms, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, and showers
  • Consulting with the company or engineer that designed the aquatic venue to decide which List N disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon (EPA) are best for your aquatic venue.
  • Setting up a system so that furniture (for example, lounge chairs) that needs to be cleaned and disinfected is kept separate from already cleaned and disinfected furniture.
  • Labeling containers for used equipment that has not yet been cleaned and disinfected and containers for cleaned and disinfected equipment.
  • Laundering towels and clothing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water temperature and dry items completely.
  • Protecting shared furniture, equipment, towels, and clothing that has been cleaned and disinfected from becoming contaminated before use.
  • Ensuring safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants, including storing products securely away from children.

Ventilation

  • Ensuring that ventilation systems of indoor spaces operate properly.
  • Increasing introduction and circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods. However, do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to staff, patrons, or swimmers.

Water systems

  • Taking steps to ensure that all water systems (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains, hot tubs) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.

Modified layouts

  • Changing deck layouts to ensure that in the standing and seating areas, individuals can remain at least 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with.

Physical barriers and guides

  • Ensuring staff, patrons, and swimmers stay at least 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with, both in and out of the water, by providing:
    • Physical cues or guides, such as lane lines in the water or chairs and tables on the deck
    • Visual cues, such as tape on the decks, floors, or sidewalks
    • Signs

Communal spaces

  • Staggering use of communal spaces (for example, in the water or breakroom), if possible, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects each time they are used.

Shared objects

  • Discouraging people from sharing items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face (for example, goggles, nose clips, and snorkels).
  • Discouraging the sharing of items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don’t live with.
  • Ensuring adequate equipment for patrons and swimmers, such as kick boards and pool noodles, to minimize sharing to the extent possible, or limiting use of equipment by one group of users at a time and cleaning and disinfecting between use. 

Maintaining healthy operations

To maintain healthy operations, operators of public aquatic venues may consider:

Protections for vulnerable staff

  • Offering options such as telework or modified job responsibilities that reduce their risk of getting infected.
  • Limiting aquatic venue use to only staff, patrons, and swimmers who live in the local area, if feasible.

Lifeguards and water safety

  • Ensuring that lifeguards who are actively lifeguarding are not also expected to monitor handwashing, use of masks, or social distancing of others. Assign this monitoring responsibility to another staff member.

Alterations of public aquatic venues

  • Consulting the company or engineer that designed the aquatic venue before altering aquatic features (for example, slides and structures designed for climbing or playing).

Regulatory awareness

  • Being aware of local or state regulatory agency policies on gathering requirements or recommendations to determine if events, such as aquatic fitness classes, swim lessons, swim team practice, swim meets, or pool parties can be held.

Staggered or rotated shifts

  • Staggering or rotating shifts to limit the number of staff present at the aquatic venue at the same time.

Designated COVID-19 point of contact

  • Designating a staff member to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All staff should know who this person is and how to contact him or her.

Gatherings

  • Avoiding group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained. Exceptions to the social distancing guidance include:
    • Anyone rescuing a distressed swimmer, providing first aid, or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with or without an automated external defibrillator.
    • Individuals in the process of evacuating an aquatic venue or entire facility due to an emergency.
  • If planned events must be conducted, staggering drop-off and pick-up times, as much as possible, to maintain distance of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together.
  • Asking parents to consider if their children are capable of staying at least 6 feet apart from people they don’t live with before taking them to a public aquatic venue.
  • Limiting any nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations.

Communication systems

  • Putting systems in place for:
    • Having staff, patrons, and swimmers self-report if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
    • Notifying local health authorities of COVID-19 cases.
    • Notifying staff, patrons, and swimmers (as feasible) of potential COVID-19 exposures while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)external icon.
    • Notifying staff, patrons, and swimmers of aquatic venue closures.

Leave policies

  • Implementing sick leave (time off) policies and practices for staff that are flexible and non-punitive.
  • Developing return-to-work policies aligned with CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.

Back-up staffing plan

  • Monitoring absenteeism of staff and creating a roster of trained back-up staff.

Staff training

  • Training staff on all safety protocols.
  • Conducting training virtually or ensuring that social distancing is maintained during in-person training.

Recognize signs and symptoms

  • Conducting daily health checks (for example, temperature screening or symptom checking) of staff. Ensure safe and respectful implementation that is aligned with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.

Preparing for when someone gets sick

To prepare for when someone gets sick, operators of public aquatic venues may consider:

Isolating and transporting those who are sick to their home or a healthcare provider

  • Immediately separating staff, patrons, or swimmers with COVID-19 symptoms (for example, fever, cough, or shortness of breath).
  • Establishing procedures for safely transporting anyone sick to their home or to a healthcare provider.

Notifying health officials and close contacts

Cleaning and disinfection

  • Closing off areas used by a sick person and not using the areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them.
  • Waiting more than 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting these areas. Ensuring safe and correct use and storage of EPA-approved List N disinfectantsexternal icon, including storing products securely away from children. 

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