NCDHHS Issues New COVID Guidance for Pools

Posted By: Jon Lowder Blog ,

The NCDHHS recently issued new COVID guidance for pools just in time for pool-opening season. You can read the guidance here, and please keep in mind that for the purposes of COVID-related public health regulation they do include apartments in their definition of public pools. Here are a few highlights:

Social Distancing (please refer to the guidance document for the full list of requirements)

Public pools and spas are required to:

  • For outdoor pools, limit occupancy to 100% as determined by the fire code (when fire code number is not known, maximum occupancy can be calculated as 24 people per 1,000 square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads), AND ensure sufficient social distancing with at least 6-foot separation between individuals or family/group units.
  • Post the reduced “Emergency Maximum Capacity” of both the pool enclosure and the water in a noticeable place. Sign templates are available in English and Spanish on NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.
  • Post signage reminding people about social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others). Know Your Ws sign templates are available in English and Spanish on NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.

It is recommended that public pools and spas:

  • Have all chairs and lounges designated for use spaced at least 6 feet apart; unless the patrons are a family unit from the same household. Pool decks should be marked so chairs and lounges can be maintained at proper distances and extra seating should be removed from the deck.
  • Provide marks on the floors of restrooms and locker rooms to indicate proper social distancing. When sinks are not 6 feet apart, consider limiting use to every other sink. If possible, designate entrance and exit doors for restrooms and locker rooms so occupants do not come face to face.
  • Discontinue the use of shared tables among non-family units

Here's the link to the full guidance document.

Cleaning & Hygiene (please refer to the guidance document for the full list of requirements)

Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer reduces the spread of transmission.

Public pools and spas are required to:

  • Perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (e.g., doors, doorknobs, rails) with an EPA approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and increase disinfection during peak times or high customer density times.

It is recommended that public pools and spas:

  • Systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol) and assure soap and hand drying materials are at sinks.
  • Provide, whenever available, hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance and other areas.
  • Require employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer immediately upon reporting to work and frequently throughout the day.
  • Disinfect tables, chairs and lounges between use, allowing the disinfectant to sit for the necessary contact time recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Provide disinfectant wipes and/or solution and disposable towels and post disinfectant use instructions at pools where no employees are present.
  • Close snack bars unless food service guidance can be followed.
  • Provide tissues and trash containers for proper cough and sneeze hygiene.
  • If towel service is provided, soiled towels must be kept in closed containers, handled minimally by employees, and employees must wash hands immediately after handling soiled linens. Towels should be washed and dried on high heat.

Here's the link to the full guidance document.