Swimsuit, towel, mask? Pools could open this weekend with new protocol
Posted May 18, 2020 7:42 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2020 9:21 a.m. EDT
With Memorial Day right around the corner, a lot of neighborhoods are trying to decide whether or not to open their pools.
Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday he will make a decision on pools midweek, but re-opening will involve strict guidelines.
Regardless of when it opens, your neighborhood pool is going to look a little different this summer.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said, "It will likely require having less people around than at full capacity, making sure sure they are spacing chairs around the pools, wearing face coverings when not in the pool, and once in the pool having some social distancing."
Is social distancing possible to enforce at pools?
Aquatic Management operates 100 pools in the Triangle. They said they have a lot of planning and preparation ahead of them to help ensure their pools are as safe as can be. They'll be doing everything from getting cleaning supplies, ordering personal protective equipment and training staff for safety procedures.
"We've got concerns like everyone else, how do you make a facility as safe as possible," said Braxton Wilson, Aquatic Management CEO.
Wilson said they've been working around the clock to try and implement those strategies.
The biggest challenge: social distancing.
"There's going to have to be some social distancing of pool furniture and check-in stations and bathrooms--just like you see at the grocery stores," he said.
Ultimately, social distancing will be up to the members.
"As far as social distancing for little children, we don't see a way to manage that. Parents are going to have to take responsibility the best way they can to oversee their kids," said Wilson.
"We can't take our eye off the ball in making sure the pool is safe for swimmers, so social distancing is going to have to be a personal responsibility, and our staff can't be expected to enforce that," he said.
Are pools ready to open?
Triangle Aquatics operates 60 local pools. One of them is the Cary Park Pool, which sent an email to members saying they are opening this weekend. But when we reached out to the pool management company they told us they are still waiting firm guidance from the governor.
Derek Wall, owner of Triangle Aquatics, said about half of their clients are ready to open as soon as possible.
"We want to make sure we're following all of the rules, and even though we're planning to open, it may not necessarily happen," said Wall.
Aquatic Management is suggesting their clients delay opening until June 1.
One of the biggest challenges is getting enough lifeguards. Springtime is key for recruiting and training lifeguards through the Red Cross, and that didn’t happen. Many pools are still looking for certified lifeguards to staff their facilities.