Phase three of the relaxation of restrictions gets underway today with the opening of swimming pools under stringent new hygiene protocols that were published by the Health Ministry yesterday.
Regulations cover personal hygiene of staff and users, checks on the quality of the water, disinfection of premises and rules for changing rooms, among other.
They require all swimmers to wear a swimming cap and sets a maximum number allowed in the pool at any given moment depending on the size.
Today’s step in the gradual easing of the lockdown was decided by the Council of Ministers earlier this week.
Phase three will be implemented in stages from today through to June 24. June 9 will see the opening of malls, airports, cruise service at the ports, indoor service at catering establishments, outdoor theatres and cinemas, sport tournaments without fans, kindergartens and nurseries, outdoor children’s play areas and summer schools. Casinos, dance schools, gyms, theme and water parks open on June 13.
The rules and regulations governing the operation of swimming pools cover eight pages.
Here are some highlights:
Staff (reception, cafeteria, cleaners, technical staff, coaches) must implement the Health Ministry’s regulations on health and safety for work during the coronavirus outbreak. Staff must oversee clients comply with the rules. There must be written instructions and training on coronavirus and staff must remove any person exhibiting symptoms.
Staff must check clients wash their hands before entering the area.
Staff must wear masks if not keeping two metres distance.
Each pool must have a written schedule for cleaning and disinfection of premises covering common use areas, and surfaces that are frequently touched.
Protection measures for swimmers/spectators
Swimmers must comply with the instructions of the staff, adhere to personal hygiene rules posted at the pool (washing hands, showering, using footwear in changing rooms) and must shower before entering the pool.
If they use the bathroom, they should shower again before entering the pool. They must use the foot pool and wear a swimming cap.
Swimmers are not allowed to enter the pool if they have any skin conditions.
Maximum number of swimmers in the pool
The maximum number of people allowed in the swimming pool at any given time taking into consideration the two metre distancing rule is for the time being calculated as follows:
• Outdoor pools: 1 swimmer for every 5 square metres of surface water
• Indoor pools: 1 swimmer for every 10 square metres of surface water
The above will be updated depending on the coronavirus outbreak.
• Spectators must comply with the 2 metre distancing rule on the stands and must remain in those areas and not enter the swimmers’ areas
Ventilation of the area
All areas must be well ventilated. It should not create direct currents of air on swimmers
Measures for quality of water
Special care should be taken to ensure the quality of water which must be confirmed with sample taking (at least two samples a week over a four month period). The water must recirculate within a maximum of four hours or six in special circumstances. This must be achieved with constant flow of clean water or with recirculation of the water after previous cleaning and disinfection. The system must be in operation at all times at which pools are open and for as long as needed to ensure water is suitable.
The rules also set out WHO guidelines regarding chlorine. It is recommended that chlorine levels are checked four times a day.
There are also specific instructions regarding disinfection in the event of a positive coronavirus case.
The exterior of the swimming pool should have signs on the floor so that swimmers can easily maintain a 2 metre distance.
Use of changing rooms and showers should be in line with decrees
Tables and sunbeds in outdoor pools are permitted provided they are 2 metres apart.
Management must ensure they are cleaned and disinfected every time there is a new user.