THE NEW NORMAL - Swimming Pool Focus
Step up your duty of care pool protocols in light of the pandemic…
In the light of the global pandemic, it has never been more vital to show duty of care for your holiday park swimming pool users. You don’t just need to follow the guidance. You need to evidence you are following that guidance. Swim England has published and is constantly updating comprehensive Return to Pools Guidance to coincide with the government controlling lockdown measures. All available through the Swim England website and easily downloadable, five detailed documents have been created and are based on the latest scientific advice and government guidelines. The guidance includes robust recommendations for operators, casual swimmers, lane swimming, family-fun sessions, club activity, teachers and those attending swimming lessons. “As pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different, but if we are to play our part in protecting the NHS from another wave of Covid-19 admissions, it is important we follow the latest guidance and adjust to the new ‘normal’,” comments Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive, Swim England The Swim England information aims to support operators in re-opening swimming facilities following the period of closure, due to Covid-19, and provides guidance on reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission within the swimming pool environment.
The information highlights the continued requirements for safe social distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes, along with guidance on how this will impact on the operational management of swimming facilities. The guide also includes details on getting pools back to operational requirements, certification, programming, understanding the new needs of users coming out of isolation (especially the most vulnerable) and protecting and training the workforce. Operators should have a dedicated officer responsible for Covid-19 considerations, making sure that they are up to date with central or local government recommendations. If your pool water is chlorine-treated to Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) guidelines, you can state, with confidence, that Covid-19 should not be transmissible through the swimming pool water. It is worth noting that most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, Swim England advises, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or operators are unsure, advice should be sought from an appropriate heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer or adviser.
Maintaining social distancing is paramount in order to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid 19 between participants, this is important both whilst in and out of the water.
Distance: The greater the distance between participants the lower the level of risk of transmission via air droplets.
Activity: The way in which participants move during the activity will determine how you can control the above two parameters, for example lane swimming is a controlled setting where participants are guided to swim in a set direction.
The swimming pool industry is urging holiday park operators to urgently have their swimming pool check plantrooms and water testing systems by appropriately qualified specialists. “Following extended shutdowns, we have to warn holiday swimming pool operators, they are potentially returning to the most dangerous pathogens lurking in pool water,” warns Dyfed Thompson-Smith of leading supplier, AstralPool UK. “Follow correct procedures including bacteriological tests in case there has been any significant break in disinfection. “It is not scare-mongering,” he emphasises. “It is just being sensible.” Pool users too are being urged to comply with guidance including arriving ready to swim, showering away from the pool and changing rooms, and leaving he pool as soon as possible after swimming. Pool users are reminded to respect people of different swimming standards and abilities, always maintaining appropriate social distance between yourself and another swimmer.
Swimmers need reminding that if they change their pace, by opting for a slower stroke, they may have to switch designated speed lanes while staying hydrated by bringing their own ‘prefilled’ water bottle on to poolside during your swim. Meanwhile, Swim England has pleaded with the Government to ensure swimming doesn’t become leisure’s ‘forgotten activity’ – after it was revealed almost a third of public pools could remain closed for another six months. However, less than 20 per cent of local authority-owned facilities will welcome swimmers back into the water on reopening day – and many of those will be at a reduced capacity. New research also shows 30 per cent of public pools may remain closed into 2021 due to the exceptional costs councils face to reopen facilities – coupled with the income lost during the lockdown period.