As the weather heats up and stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders surrounding COVID-19 are lifted, many residents are looking forward to spending time at their community pools. While a healthy dose of vitamin D and fresh air is likely to lift residents’ moods, it’s important to remember that there are still strict social distancing and disinfecting guidelines in place.
Before the Board of Directors decide to reopen the community pool, it’s a good time to revisit and possibly rewrite some of your condominium or HOA swimming pool rules to take existing distancing and disinfecting guidelines into account.
“We understand that residents are eager to get outside and return to normal activities, including using their pools,” says Stephanie Parker, vice president of operations at FirstService Residential. “But it has to be done safely and carefully. That’s why we made sure all of our management teams were given guidelines to reopening amenities in the communities we manage.”
Before you implement new condominium or HOA swimming pool rules developed by your board, make sure to thoroughly investigate the government directives surrounding the reopening of any amenity. Ensure that residents will have the space to practice proper social distancing and that thorough cleaning measures are being implemented.
While your board is no doubt well versed in COVID-19 guidelines at this point, it’s worth the effort to run any new condominium or HOA swimming pool rules by your association attorney. This will help minimize liability for you, the board and your management company for any new rules implemented during this time. Your attorney will be able to help you make certain the rules are clear and concise for residents in emails and posted signage.
According to the CDC website, “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. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”
If your staff or a third-party pool vendor has been consistently maintaining the pool during stay-at-home orders, it will be ready for safe use. However, if the pool has not been properly cleaned and chemicals not added/balanced while it was closed, delay opening until a professional has ensured that the pool has reached a safe chemical balance.
Continuing to practice healthy hygiene and communicate those practices while pools reopen is critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those practices include:
While stay-at-home orders are being lifted, strict social distancing guidelines are still in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including for time spent at the pool. Any new rules should have instructions for pool attendees to practice social distancing, which include:
Rules that will help ensure proper social distancing is followed include the following:
To help with condominium and HOA pool rule enforcement, here are some things that staff should do in the pool area:
Social distancing is only one part of defending against COVID-19 at the pool. The other part is frequent and meticulous cleaning and disinfecting in the pool area, along with regular handwashing by the residents at the pool.
When cleaning the pool area, staff should:
As more residents begin using the amenities, it’s imperative that staff members continue with their cleaning and disinfecting routines. A quick refresher on proper methods for cleaning the pool areas as well as other common areas and amenities will ensure they are up to speed on responsibilities.
The updated rules will only be effective if residents are aware of them prior to visiting the pool. Post any new rules in highly visible places in the common areas of your association well before the pool reopens to ensure that they are seen by the majority of residents.
Additionally, send residents emails that outline the new condominium or HOA swimming pool rules. Provide contact information so that anyone can contact the property manager with questions regarding the new regulations before they venture poolside.
Finally, confirm that clear, visible signage is hung in numerous areas around the pool. Below is an example of coronavirus pool signage with any new rules:
In response to concerns about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and as a precaution to our residents and staff, please do not move the pool furniture from its current location to allow for social distancing.
The health and safety of our residents and associates are our top priorities. Please be aware that it is impossible for the community to disinfect all amenities and furnishings in a manner to totally eradicate the potential spread of COVID-19. Facilities are open at this time, but you must use personal distancing guidelines. We strongly encourage you to wipe down high-touch surfaces prior to use or avoid using them altogether.
We also recommend following CDC guidelines on personal hygiene, using face coverings when not in the water, and staying home if you are sick or tested positive for COVID-19.
Management assumes no responsibility for any injuries you may receive from the use of our amenities and furnishings.
The Board of Directors thank you for your understanding and patience and for being vigilant with respect to practicing safe habits and social distancing.
Please contact your management team if you have any questions.
Phone number: ___________________________
Email address: ____________________________
While residents adjust to new pool rules in their community, they may need some reminders of the guidelines when at the pool. Assign a dedicated attendant to the pool area to enforce the condominium or HOA pool rules if they observe residents who are not appropriately distanced, have too large of a group or are not following any other regulations created for their health and safety.
Depending on the configuration of the pool area, there may be other ways to help promote a healthy environment.
As a board member, you naturally want residents in your community to enjoy the amenities that drew them to the property in the first place. While reopening the pool after stay-at-home orders have been lifted will no doubt excite residents, it’s important to respect the social distancing guidelines still in place by updating your pool rules to keep everyone safe from the coronavirus.
This article is a compilation of proposed operational guidelines and procedures for possible use, after consultation and approval by the Board of Directors of the association, including their attorney, in connection with the management of residential communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article is not intended to and must not be construed as or relied upon as providing medical or legal advice of any kind on any issue. The referenced guidelines may change from time to time as federal, state, or local authorities and healthcare organizations issue new and/or revised directives.