As temperatures climb, residents are starting to learn about plans to reopen local pools this summer under new COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Prince William County Parks and Recreation announced in May its outdoor pools and waterparks will not open during the 2020 summer season due to the pandemic.
One homeowners association decided Wednesday to open one of its pools starting July 1 under new safety guidelines due to COVID. The association’s board of directors approved a plan that allows management to open a second pool roughly a week later.
Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association's board of directors voted 5-3 to allow its staff to implement safety guidelines and open the two pools in a phased approach.
The board held a special meeting after holding a virtual town hall last week to receive public feedback.
The association has five pools, Ike Mutlu, the association’s chief operating officer and general manager, told InsideNoVa ahead of the board’s decision.
Staff outlined their plan to implement strict social distance requirements, increased cleaning and more, following state guidance.
The board approved staff's recommendation to open Ridgewood pool on Wednesday, July 1, for lap swimming and allow one person per lane. This will mean roughly 48 swimmers maximum daily per pool, according to staff.
About a week after July 1, the association will open Canterbury Woods pool. Again, no guests will be allowed. Swimmers can have up to three people from the same household in a lane. This is set to allow 144 swimmers per daily maximum, according to staff.
While pools are set to be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, association members can sign up a day in advance for a one-hour session.
To enter the pool, the association will ask people to sign a waiver, which includes stating they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Pool attendees will also be asked to wear a mask when they're not in the water.
Under state guidelines, pools could open June 12 for lap swim and limit three people to a lane with 10 feet of social distance per swimmer. Under easing restrictions July 1, swimming pools can begin to allow free swim, indoor and outdoor exercise, diving and swim instruction.
The Lake Ridge association staff plans to designate eight zones for families to stay in. Families can bring folding chairs because furniture will be removed to reduce surfaces that need to be cleaned.
One board member asked if the association could consider extending into September the pool season to allow members more time to visit the pool. Staff said that is a possibility but it would require additional costs.
The association’s staff prepared its five pools, including four lap swimming and one recreational pool, in March and have since kept up maintenance on the pools and one splash park that will remain closed, Mutlu said. The association worked on upgrades and prepared for the possibility of opening in the summer, he said.
“We have no desire to shut the pools down; we’re not trying to save money,” Mutlu said. “They have water in them, the pump is running and chlorine is being used.”
Opening up under new strict guidelines means pool staff will need to be trained and additional staff will need to help monitor and enforce social distance requirements, he said.
“Pools are important, I understand the kids are cooped up and they want to get in the water,” Mutlu said.