CDC issues guidelines for public pools, hot tubs, waterparks

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People swim in a public swimming pool on July 23, 2013 in Berlin’s Neukoelln district as temperatures in the capital reached 30 degrees Celsius. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

(WETM) – As the summer months approach, the Center for Disease Control has issued guidance for public pools, hot tubs, and waterparks.

Primarily, the CDC says that similar hygiene and etiquette should be practiced in these places as it should be in any public area. Staff, swimmers, and other visitors should wash their hands, stay home if they’re sick, and cover their coughs and sneezes.

The CDC says that that face coverings should be worn outside of the water, but that masks are not recommended in the water because when wet, cloth makes it difficult to breathe through.

According to the CDC, “there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas.”

Facilities should also have soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch trash cans. Signage, regular announcements on a PA system, and messages on how ot prevent the spread of COVID-19 should also be displayed or aired.

Lifeguards should focus on the safety of those in the water and not be concerned with whether people are wearing masks. The CDC says that additional staff should be designated to monitor mask use out of the water.

Guidelines for shared items such as chairs, pool equipment, pool toys, and other community items were also issued.

  • Cleaning and Disinfection
    • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects each time they are used. For example:
      • Handrails, slides, and structures for climbing or playing
      • Lounge chairs, tabletops, pool noodles, and kickboards
      • Door handles and surfaces of restrooms, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, and showers
    • Consulting with the company or engineer that designed the aquatic venue to decide which List N disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon (EPA) are best for your aquatic venue.
    • Setting up a system so that furniture (for example, lounge chairs) that needs to be cleaned and disinfected is kept separate from already cleaned and disinfected furniture.
    • Labeling containers for used equipment that has not yet been cleaned and disinfected and containers for cleaned and disinfected equipment.
    • Laundering towels and clothing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water temperature and dry items completely.
    • Protecting shared furniture, equipment, towels, and clothing that has been cleaned and disinfected from becoming contaminated before use.
    • Ensuring safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants, including storing products securely away from children.
  •  Ventilation
    • Ensuring that ventilation systems of indoor spaces operate properly.
    • Increasing introduction and circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods. However, do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to staff, patrons, or swimmers.
  • Water Systems
    • Taking steps to ensure that all water systems (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains, hot tubs) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
  • Modified Layouts
    • Changing deck layouts to ensure that in the standing and seating areas, individuals can remain at least 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with.
  • Physical Barriers and Guides
    • Providing physical cues or guides (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 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with, both in and out of the water.
  • Communal Spaces
    • Staggering use of communal spaces (for example, in the water or breakroom), if possible, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects each time they are used.
  • Shared Objects
    • Discouraging people from sharing items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face (for example, goggles, nose clips, and snorkels).
    • Discouraging the sharing of items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don’t live with.
    • Ensuring adequate equipment for patrons and swimmers, such as kick boards and pool noodles, to minimize sharing to the extent possible, or limiting use of equipment by one group of users at a time and cleaning and disinfecting between use.

Additional guidance regarding staffing, cleaning procedures, and reporting possible cases can be found on the CDC website.

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