The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we see many of our favorite spots, from restaurants and movie theaters to public and private pools. Most of these places have been closed since mid-March, but we’re still waiting to see when many of them will reopen.
Some pools are beginning to reopen, but what will these public spaces look like after such a serious pandemic?
As summer rolls in, how do you feel about swimming in a pool with other people? Is it safe to hop in, as long as you practice social distancing? How do we avoid spreading the virus in pools and other bodies of water?
We’ve got answers to some of your big pandemic pool-related questions. Here are a few things you need to know about how we predict summer pools will be used during this unprecedented time – and how you can keep yourself safe.
Pools Will Be Limited to a Certain Number of Users at a Time
Although we can’t know for certain how most public pools and waterparks will handle the rest of this summer and the pandemic, we can make educated guesses.
Our current prediction is that neighborhood pools will be limited to use by a certain number of people at a time. Much like restaurants and other establishments, there will be serious restrictions on capacity – perhaps as low as 25 percent.
The CDC is still recommending that people stay six feet apart, in and out of the water. Even if your pool is operating under semi-normal conditions, it’s your job to ensure you’re still socially distancing. You should also work on covering your face when you cough, only touching what you need to, and keeping your swim gear to yourself.
Additionally, we foresee restrictions being placed on all interactions and activities at the pool. If you’re not in the water, you may be asked to wear a face mask. If you’re attending a pool party or gathering, it will be capped at a certain number (likely below 250).
Shared spaces, such as public bathrooms or snack stands, may remain closed or have other limitations that they haven’t dealt with in years prior.
There is no proven evidence that COVID-19 can spread in recreational waters, including public pools and waterparks. Still, most locations will practice basic social distancing hygiene protocols, just in case.
Cleanliness and Safety Are Top Priorities
Regardless of what the pool’s policies are on congregating, mask-wearing, and swimming, every public space will have high-levels of cleanliness and sanitation this summer.
Surfaces touched by guests and staff will likely be disinfected at least twice a day. This includes door handles, showers, changing rooms, chairs, ladders, etc.
Even if you aren’t visiting public spaces and are simply sharing your personal swimming pool with others, it’s your responsibility to keep your pool in tiptop shape. Take the disinfecting process seriously – clean and sanitize any surfaces that are commonly touched.
You will also need to continue basic hygiene practices like washing your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid coming in close contact with other people, especially if they could have come in contact with the virus through work, travel, or other circumstances.
Fortunately, experts have repeatedly stated that the possibility of catching COVID-19 is lower outdoors than it is indoors. If you’re going to risk hanging out with others, doing so by the poolside is likely safer than inviting people to hang out inside your home.
People Will Be Advised to Stay Home and Avoid People Through the Summer
Our last prediction is that even if public pools and waterparks open up, the official advice will be to stay at home and avoid going to spaces with other people.
Talk to Mira, a health plan provider, recently released what many states predict will be their peak COVID-19 points. Unfortunately, many won’t see their highest numbers until August, or at least that’s what’s being estimated.
So, if you’re desperate to swim this summer but don’t want to violate any social distancing orders, you might be best sticking to pools in your own backyard. This could mean inflating a temporary pool, installing a permanent one, or even buying an above-ground option.
Before building a swimming pool, it’s important that you understand all the costs and maintenance that will go into the process. Don’t make any rash decisions just because we’re in a pandemic – ensure you’re really thinking about affording, caring for, and using a backyard pool.
Whether you’re researching above ground pools for sale or hiring a contractor to install an in-ground pool, make sure you’re confident that you’ll use the pool beyond this pandemic-stricken summer.
We’re all getting really tired of social distancing measures and closures, but unfortunately, we probably haven’t seen the end of COVID-19’s impact on our summer plans.
If you do visit public pools, ensure that you understand their social distancing rules and protocols. If necessary, ask what they’re doing to sanitize the area and keep everyone safe from the virus.
When using your own pool, practice similar disinfection procedures. Do your best to minimize gatherings and prevent the spread of the virus through safe social distancing and cleaning. Should you decide to avoid public gatherings and put your own pool in the backyard, do your research beforehand. We might be going stir crazy, but installing a pool should never be a slap-dash decision.
Noah Williams is the a manager for Family Leisure. He’s an expert in pools, spas, and outdoor living spaces.