This page provides considerations for authorities having jurisdiction and property managers when preparing to reopen pools with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the arrival of the summer season, many communities are hoping to enjoy some time in the pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs and Water Playgrounds During COVID-19.
The CDC recommends that staff, patrons and swimmers stay at least 6 feet apart from those they do not live with. Some jurisdictions have also included capacity restrictions, which has resulted in confusion about how to determine the number of people allowed to use the pool.
To determine the number of people permitted at a pool, load factors are typically expressed as an area occupied by each person in a building or occupancy type. However, the approach can vary depending on whether the pool is indoors or outdoors, the depth of the pool, local ordinances and other factors.
Some pools, for instance, were designed assuming 50 square feet per person in the pool itself and 15 square feet per person on the deck surrounding the pool. Another approach assumes factors based on the depth and area of the pool, typically 12 to 300 square feet per person, and might be independent of the deck area.
For example, an outdoor pool with a 4-foot-deep swimming area of 3,000 square feet, a deck area of 3,000 square feet and no diving area, using 12 square feet per person, results in a capacity of 250 people. If a 50% capacity restriction is imposed due to COVID-19, the capacity is reduced to 125 people.
Similarly, assuming 36 square feet per person based on the CDC's 6-foot social distancing criteria represents another form of capacity reduction but should be compared to the other approaches discussed above.
See also: Ingress and egress concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic