CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice’s office released guidelines for reopening public swimming pools in Week 5, which began Monday morning. Swimming pools can open beginning on Saturday, May 30.
As previously reported by the Register on May 20, the New Haven Pool will be opening this summer, but no opening date has been set. As of the publication of that article, New Haven Council said the health department told them a maximum of 25 people would be allowed at any given time, but that could increase in the future.
In Point Pleasant, the Splash Pad at Krodel Park is still closed with no known plans to open at this time. Mayor Brian Billings said the city is waiting on guidance from local and state officials before announcing an opening.
Under Gov. Justice’s reopening plan, West Virginia Strong — The Comeback, swimming pools are to be allowed to resume operations. To do so, Gov. Justice has issued the following guidance to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 among staff and patrons. These guidelines, in addition to any and all relevant guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), will help West Virginians safely enjoy such facilities. Pool operators are allowed and encouraged to implement more stringent protocols as they see fit.
According to the guidelines:
As your business reviews and implements these new measures, we encourage you to share and discuss them with your employees and your patrons. Communicating enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices will make staff and patrons feel more confident.
Please note: The following guidelines are being published in advance of Governor Justice’s Executive Order — currently anticipated to be effective as of the week of May 30, 2020 — that will allow for the opening of pools.
Note further: Such pool facilities should also consult the Guidance for West Virginia Small Businesses, Outdoor and/or Indoor Dining, and Fitness Centers, Gymnasiums, and Recreation Centers, as applicable, available at governor.wv.gov, to determine other best practices, in addition to CDC Guidelines for Pools: CDC Guidance for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds.
Operational Restrictions/Requirements: Plan: Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices: Prepare the pool facility for reopening; Prepare your employees for their return to work; Create a social distancing plan to manage and reduce excessive contact and interaction; Create a plan for personal protective equipment; Reduce touch points to the maximum extent possible; Increase cleaning frequency and the availability of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and other DIY cleaning products to ensure touch points and common surfaces are properly sanitized be-tween each use by customers or staff; Establish an open line of communication with employees regarding safety.
Occupancy: Restrict facility access to staffed hours only and limit facility occupancy to ensure proper social distancing may be achieved. Restrict occupancy at any restaurant or dining areas to be in accordance with applicable guidelines for restaurants, A Guide to Safely Opening our Restaurants Through Takeaway Service & Outdoor Dining and A Guide to Safely Opening Restaurants and Bars, both available at governor.wv.gov.
Social Distancing: Implement strict social distancing guidelines of at least six feet between individuals who do not reside together, modify scheduling to reduce unnecessary interactions, to the greatest extent possible adjust deck layout and close or restrict access to certain areas to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals who do not reside together.
PPE: Employees who interact with guests (e.g., those at a sign-in desk or snack bar) should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including appropriate face coverings to the greatest extent possible.
Cleaning: Ensure that staffing and supplies available for such facilities are sufficient to enable enhanced sanitization and cleaning measures in accordance with appropriate CDC guidelines.
Limitations on Facilities: The following should remain closed or limited to the maximum extent possible: Install physical barriers (for example, lane lines in the water or chairs and tables on the deck) and visual cues (for example, tape on the decks, floors, or sidewalks) and signs to ensure that staff, patrons, and swimmers stay at least six feet apart from those they don’t reside with, both in and out of the water. Discourage or prohibit shared objects including goggles, nose clips, and snorkels. Any food service must be run in accordance with current orders and guidelines for restaurants and bars, found at governor.wv.gov. If towels are generally provided, consider requesting that patrons bring their own towels and limit such service. Ensure any towels to be provided are stored in covered, sanitized containers that are clearly delineated clean versus soiled. Appropriate temperatures are to be used when washing and drying towels to ensure sanitation (hot water for washing, ensure they are completely dried). Employees handling towels must wear gloves and face coverings. Restroom and shower facilities should limit the number of users at any one time based on the facility size and current social distancing guidelines and such facilities should be regularly cleaned/sanitized per CDC recommended protocols. Water fountains, common areas, break rooms, check-in counters, and other areas in which patrons or employees may congregate should be limited to the greatest extent possible, and where such are not closed, must be cleaned/sanitized frequently.
Touch points: Point of sale equipment, doorknobs, light switches, buttons, and any pool equipment or other common elements should be cleaned and sanitized between each use or touch by different staff or patrons.
Payments: Encourage customers to make non-cash payments.
Plan: Plan for potential COVID-19 cases and work with local health department officials when needed (i.e., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep-clean facilities).
Signage: Post extensive signage on health policies, including the following documents in the workplace to help educate all on COVID-19 best practices: CDC: Stop the Spread of Germs; CDC: COVID-19 Symptoms
The guidelines state that customers and employees must be screened for symptoms, encouraged to wear appropriate PPE, signs must be posted to stress social distancing and common areas must be cleaned.