Last year, many commercial pools were closed for much or all of the season. This year, the country will be much more open for summer, and people will expect to be able to use pools at hotels and apartment complexes, as well as public community pools.
However, concerns still remain about the continued spread of the coronavirus, and it’s important for pool owners and operators to know the proper steps to take to maintain safe conditions. In fact, by executive order Governor Kemp requires that pools, among other in-person business operations, do what they can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their operations. In addition, the Georgia Department of Public Health recommends that pool operators integrate the CDC’s pool guidelines into their operations.
There is no evidence that pools themselves spread coronavirus, and no reason why people shouldn’t use public pools. That being said, it’s still crucial that you follow all CDC recommendations. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important aspects of the CDC’s guidance for public pools in Atlanta.
Encourage Staff to Stay Home When Appropriate
Employers should develop policies that encourage staff to stay home when they have signs of COVID-19 or are at risk of exposure. This means that staff should know they will not be punished or lose their jobs because they are staying home or isolating for this reason.
Encourage Physical Distancing
In general, the CDC still requires staff and patrons to stay at least 6 feet away from people they don’t live with. Practically, this might mean discouraging people from gathering in certain traffic areas and placing tables, lounges, etc. in separated clusters to keep households separate.
It might also mean limiting the number of occupants in enclosed spaces. This could be the pool itself, the pool room, bathrooms, or locker rooms. It’s also important to make sure people don’t congregate too close together when waiting for access to the pool.
Pool operators can also help by staggering swimming lessons and other events appropriately, and by setting up entrances and exits to encourage one-way travel when possible.
Masking around the Pool
For now, the CDC still encourages the use of cloth masks among staff and patrons. However, they should not be worn in the pool.
Masks that are wet are harder to breathe through and don’t work properly. Patrons and staff should be encouraged to bring a back-up mask in case the first gets wet.
Hygiene and Etiquette
Encourage patrons and staff to wash hands regularly with soap and water. When they can’t use soap and water, they should use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
In addition, encourage people to cover coughs and sneezes. They should dispose of used tissues properly and wash hands after coughing or sneezing. Discourage spitting and other behaviors that project liquid and droplets from the body.
Clean Air and Clean Spaces
Since the coronavirus spreads primarily through the air, it’s important to make sure you have adequate ventilation in all buildings and spaces, including the pool room. This might mean increasing the outdoor air intake over normal. It’s also recommended that operators increase filtration to a MERV-13 or as high as practical. In addition, it’s important to inspect and change filters regularly to ensure proper function.
For large events or when there is high occupancy, operators should consider a system purge before and/or after the event. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) can also help stop the spread around pools. Air filtration is often neglected in commercial pool renovations.
Although surface spread is secondary for the coronavirus, it’s still important to provide a clean environment. This means regularly cleaning and disinfecting shared objects. Make sure these procedures are effective by using a List N disinfectant.
Let Us Reduce the Burden of Pool Maintenance
Since 1972, Allen Pool Service’s commercial pool maintenance has been helping commercial pool operators in Atlanta ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for patrons at their pool. We have incorporated COVID-19 countermeasures into our pool maintenance routine.
To learn how we can help your pool meet post-COVID health and safety guidelines, please contact Allen Pool Service in Atlanta today.