With summer on the horizon and early rounds of vaccines being administered, aquatic venue administrators are looking for ways to open while reducing the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus. Drip Hydration is here to help you make sure your bases are covered as you prepare for pool reopening and a healthy swim season for everyone.
Environmental practices to reduce transmission of Covid-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers detailed guidance on steps you can take prior to your pool reopening to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including:
- Properly and frequently clean/disinfect…
- Pool access points like handrails and slides
- Pool toys and equipment
- High-touch points in public areas like doorknobs and faucet handles
- Develop systems to keep sanitized equipment and supplies away from those in need of cleaning to avoid contamination
- Tips for increased ventilation, such as using fans to push air outside, rather than across the room
- Following these steps to ensure your venue is free of health hazards associated with prolonged shutdowns of facilities, such as…
- Bacteria like Legionella which causes Legionnaires Disease
- Hazardous metals like lead or copper
- Setting up your facility differently by…
- Modifying layouts to promote social distancing and discourage risky activities like eating which requires mask removal
- Creating physical barriers and high-visibility signage to encourage people to remain in their social bubbles
- Create systems to stagger use of communal spaces and ensure access to freshly sanitized equipment provided by your venue for each individual or household
- Reducing touch points (like using foot-pedal trash cans or touchless soap dispensers)
Protecting and empowering your employees during and after your pool reopening
Preventing a Covid-19 outbreak among your staff is one of the most important ways you can help stop the spread. Fortunately, the CDC offers these directives on how venues can ensure their employees are kept as safe as possible.
Education and training
Ensuring your and your employees are well-educated and informed will be essential to operating in the new normal. Below are some of the CDC’s recommendations to take into account.
Owners and operators should know:
- The signs and symptoms of Covid-19
- Policies of local and state regulatory agencies and how your venue is in compliance
- Contact info for the company or designer of your aquatic venue (to consult prior to any construction you may do to reduce Covid-19 transmission)
- Agencies and departments to whom confirmed cases must be reported
- Any other policies/information your staff is expected to know
Employees should know:
- The signs and symptoms of Covid-19
- Safety protocols designed to reduce transmission and why they work
- All policies and protocols related to Covid-19 and what to do if they or someone else is sick
- Know who your venue’s Covid-19 point of contact is and how to contact them
- Clearly what their job duties and responsibilities are
Read on for more clarification regarding those last two points!
Policies that put safety first
It’s easy for pool owners and operators to feel like they are struggling to stay afloat in a sea of new regulations and directives. Continue reading for some more CDC tips for policies that set your venue up for healthy success:
- Employees at high risk of severe illness should be given options to work from home or have modified job duties that decrease their risk of infection wherever possible
- Lifeguards/water safety employees should NEVER be responsible for monitoring or enforcing Covid-19 related rules (such as handwashing, wearing masks, or social distancing) while actively lifeguarding. These duties should be designated to separate employees
Some staffing practices for consideration are:
- Flexible and non-punitive leave policies the promote staying home if you’re sick
- Having trained back-up staff in place in the event an employee must quarantine
- Return to work policies based on the CDC’s home isolation guidelines
- Establishing a designated Covid-19 point-of-contact. Venues may benefit from designating a specific person to be in charge of fielding Covid-19 concerns. All staff should be aware of who this person is, how to contact them, and what scenarios should prompt them to do so
The importance of testing and health screenings
There’s no denying the importance of testing and health screenings in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Many employers are screening employees each day prior to beginning work. This can take the form of a temperature check or a symptom check. If this is a practice you are interested in, check out the CDC’s General Business FAQ for more tips on how to conduct these screenings safely, effectively, and respectfully.
In the event that employees begin showing symptoms or learn they have been exposed to Covid-19, testing is a powerful tool in determining how quickly they may return to work. Aquatic venue operators and owners should consider providing employees with information on where they can access testing should the need arise. It is important for you to remain aware of how accessible testing is in your area is when dealing with employees who need to be tested; hours-long waits and shortages of tests have been reported in some areas heavily impacted by Covid-19.
Another option available to pool venues is utilizing a private medical service like Drip Hydration to administer tests to employees. You can arrange for a nurse to visit your facility and administer Covid-19 tests to your employees on site. This can be set up as a one-time arrangement or on an ongoing basis. Regular testing better enables you to keep operating smoothly while preventing transmission of Covid-19 to staff and patrons.
Promoting healthy guest behavior
Guiding patrons towards healthy habits – and more importantly, preventing unhealthy practices – without negatively impacting guest perception is a challenge for aquatic venue operators. We’ve already reviewed some suggested strategies to achieve this, like highly visible signage and designated Covid-19 rules enforcers. Read on for more ways to get swimmers on board with the “New Normal:”
- Have strong communication and education. In addition to on-site signage enforcing the basics, you should be certain that your full guest policies are available both on-site and in any online presence you have. Encouraging guests to review your policies allows them to adequately prepare for their visit to your facility, as well as hopefully dissuading anyone unwilling to comply with safe practice (like mask-wearing) from visiting. The CDC also recommends signage indicating what the symptoms of Covid-19 are and encouraging people to self-report and self-isolate if they feel sick.
- Limit guest capacity to a number that allows guests and staff to remain socially distant, and consider limiting visitors to the general area in which your venue is located. It is unlikely that venues will be able to hold full size swim meets safely at this time. You should review local regulations and restrictions, and work with organizations to divide events over time to reduce transmission of the virus. Be certain that you schedule time to thoroughly sanitize equipment and surfaces between participating groups/events.
- Have procedures in place for if someone starts showing signs of illness at your venue. You should have a place designated for anyone feeling ill, and a plan for transporting the sick patron or staff member home or to a medical care provider.
Linked below are the local regulations regarding pool reopening for a few major metropolitan areas. Owners outside these areas should contact their respective licensing entities for information on local mandates, or can use this interactive CDC map to determine your appropriate local regulatory agency.
- NYC Department of Health Guidance for Pool Operators and Indoor Pools
- COVID Business Reopening Guidebook
- Reopening Guide for Gym & Fitness Center Operators
- Safe Short Term Rental Reopening During Covid-19
- How To Use A COVID-19 Test When Collecting Samples From Employees
- Covid-19 Reopening Phases For Businesses and Corporations, Explained
- Do COVID-19 Testing Kits For Businesses Reduce Virus Spread?
- Can Employers Use In-Home COVID-19 Testing Kits For Workers?
- Can You Test Yourself At Home With A COVID-19 Test Kit?
- The Differences Between The Types Of COVID-19 Tests
- How Accurate Are Rapid COVID-19 Tests?
- The Difference Between Antibody And Antigen COVID-19 Tests, Explained
- What Is The Easiest Way To Get A Rapid COVID-19 Test Before Traveling?
- Help Keep Your Staff Healthy With COVID-19 Testing For Businesses
Let Drip Hydration Help You Reopen Ahead of the Spread
Consult with Drip Hydration to learn how we can help your pool reopening go smoothly and maintain healthy operations during the pandemic. With as little as 24 hours notice, one of our skilled nurses can visit your venue and administer Covid-19 tests to your employees. In the event that anyone has a positive test result, our experts can provide advice to your employee on what to do next, and help you get operations back on track as quickly as possible.
We offer progressive group discounts as well as discounted plans for incremental appointments, and PPO insurance holders may be eligible for partial reimbursement as well. Your employees may be glad to hear that we offer in-home testing services for private residences as well.
Call us today for a consultation – we’re excited to help ensure your pool reopening kicks off a safe and healthy swim season!