RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some Raleigh city pools and aquatic centers are reopening Monday with limited capacity and new rules.
“It’s going to be a lot of things that I think people are going to be familiar with in the retail world when they’ve gone out to get groceries or shopping trips they’ve had to do. We’re just trying to apply them in an aquatic setting,” said Billy Aubut, recreation superintendent for the City of Raleigh.
Aubut said the city used guidance from the CDC and the Pools and Hot Tub Alliance to come up with its protocols.
Swimmers can expect reduced capacities, directional signs, per-reservations, and wellness checks.
Aubut said a hurdle of reopening is the variety of ways in which people enjoy a pool. While some people focus on swimming solo laps, others may use a pool for social interactions.
“It’s challenging to try and plan for. We’ve reinforced with our staff, our guard staff, our pool management staff, ways to thank people for physical distancing,” said Aubut.
The CDC reported that there is no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread to people through water. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets that can be released through talking, sneezing, or coughs. It can be picked up from a contaminated surface therefore hand washing is still highly encouraged at public pools.
The Texas Medical Association created a ranking of activities by COVID-19 risk. Swimming in a public pool was ranked at a level 6 for a moderate risk. Opening your mail was the lowest risk with going to a bar being ranked the highest.
“I think everybody has, with everything, their own acceptable limits of what of this unprecedented situation. I don’t know that there’s one solid piece of advice,” Aubut said. “For me and my family, we take every situation, we evaluate it and we make that decision.
“I think I can share what we’re doing to try to provide that safe environment and I think everybody’s risk tolerance is going to be different,” said Aubut.
While there is some risk involved according to the ranking, the city is taking steps to try and mitigate those risks.
Reservations are required but walk-ins will be accommodated when capacity allows them. That capacity was set to a different limit at each pool to suit each location’s size and design. There will be specific swim start times and will be limited to 75 minutes. In between swim sessions, staff will clean surfaces. Aubut said staff will regularly clean high-touch surfaces will swimmers are in.
“We’re trying to use this week to see if we an bump out capacities up a little but there’s a lot of unknowns,” said Aubut.
For now, all spray grounds and splash pads will remain closed to avoid creating areas for children to congregate closely.
Raleigh urges citizens follow new rules
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Bring a facemask to wear when you are not in the water and social distancing is not possible.
- Please bring your own chair.
- All facilities will have reduced capacity.
Click here to read Raleigh’s “Aquatics Know Before You Go” information.
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