California to Reopen Pools in Phase 3 As Soon as June 12

California’s approach to reopening pools from the COVID-19 pandemic has largely been piecemeal, but as it enters Phase 3, a wider change could be coming.

The state last Friday laid out the framework for opening swimming pools in Phase 3 of its Resilience Roadmap by no sooner than this Friday, June 12. While not explicitly naming pools in many reports, the step includes reopening “higher-risk workplaces,” including “campgrounds, hotels, gyms, bars and museums.” Pools would likely open at diminished capacity and with increased safeguards in place. The state’s guidance on gyms parts out specific guidance for opening pools.

The specific openings will still be subject to county-by-county review of local conditions. From the San Jose Mercury News:

During a Friday press briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will continue to provide guidance for “how” to reopen certain sectors of local economies, but it’s up to individual counties to file attestation forms that will determine “when” businesses can resume operations.

“As we continue to release guidance on how different sections can reopen with modifications, it is important to remember guidance doesn’t mean go,” Dr. Sonia Angell, the director of the California Department of Public Health, told the Los Angeles Times. “Your local health officer will make the final decision about which sectors will open guided by data specific to your community.”

California’s pools have battled to open sooner, and some have succeeded via local lobbying. Public pools in Santa Clara County, for instance, were allowed to open June 5. Contra Costa County reversed itself late last week by, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, reopening outdoor pools.

Other counties in the state have petitioned to have their pools opened sooner than Phase 3, but those efforts have achieved mixed results.

The state also issued industry-specific guidance for reopening (pdf). Among what the state labels as “additional considerations for swimming pools/aquatic venues” are:

  • Extra steps to disinfect surfaces, furniture and equipment
  • Continued closure of “saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs”
  • Discourage sharing of towels, equipment and other items (googles, nose clips, snorkels, etc.)
  • Arrange facility amenities to enforce social distancing
  • Provide physical barriers (such as Plexiglass) for areas where staff and patrons interact
  • Consider adopting a reservation system to control capacity
  • “Avoid activities that promote group gatherings and should be aware of local policies on gathering requirements to determine if aquatic fitness classes, swim lessons, swim team practices, swim meets, or pool parties can be held.”

Swimming Through a Pandemic

The postponements and cancellations wrought by COVID-19 haven’t just affected the Olympics and the ranks of elite swimmers. They’ve trickled down to neighborhood clubs and summer youth leagues, affecting thousands of recreational and competitive swimmers alike. Here is some of our coverage of COVID-19’s effect on the American summer swimming calendar.

Resources for returning to the pool in the COVID-19 era

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