Is it safe to swim in pools amid Covid-19 pandemic? CDC says yes, but only if these guidelines are followed
Although there is no evidence to suggest Covid-19 spreads through pools, hot tubs or spas, CDC recommends maintaining social distancing and other safety measures
Summer is almost here. Every year, Americans jump into the pools to beat the heat. But is it safe to head out during the Covid-19 era? According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus spreads through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. They, however, recommend maintaining and disinfecting pools with chlorine and bromine.
Though water does not appear to help the virus spread, people do. Experts advise social distancing in pools, hot tubs, spas, or beaches to minimize the risk. “Probably the biggest risk for summer water recreation is crowds — a crowded pool locker room, dock or beach, especially if coupled with limited physical distancing or prolonged proximity to others," Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, told The New York Times.
"While there is ongoing community spread of the virus that causes Covid-19, it is important for individuals as well as owners and operators of these facilities to take steps to ensure health and safety," the CDC wrote on its website. Here are some of the agency's guide to staying safe.
Keep distance in the pool
According to the CDC, staying at least six feet away from others can lower risks. Avoiding group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water when people cannot maintain physical distancing also helps. The advice, however, does not apply to those rescuing a distressed swimmer, providing first aid, or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Operators can use changing deck layouts in the standing and seating areas to ensure physical distancing with others. They can do the same in water by placing lane lines in the water.
Use face coverings, but not in the water
The CDC recommends using face masks or cloth coverings when people cannot maintain physical distancing. But not in water. "Cloth face coverings can be difficult to breathe through when they are wet," the CDC said.
Wash your hands
Everybody, including staff and swimmers, should maintain hand hygiene. Operators must also provide soaps, hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch trash cans, the CDC said. Operators, for their part, should disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as handrails, slides, and structures for climbing or playing lounge chairs, tabletops, pool noodles, and kickboards. They also recommend sanitizing door handles and surfaces of restrooms, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, and showers.
Say no to sharing
Goggles, nose clips, and snorkels are difficult to disinfect. The CDC discourages people from sharing them and other items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with others. As for equipment such as kickboards and pool noodles, operators should consider allowing only one group of users at a time.
Stay home if you are sick
People infected with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, including those who have crossed paths with infected individuals, must isolate themselves at home to avoid putting others at risk, the CDC said.
Ventilation is key to staying safe
The risk of catching and spreading Covid-19 is higher in confined and non-ventilated indoor spaces, according to experts. The CDC advises operators to ensure that ventilation systems of indoor spaces operate properly before opening up. Allowing outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods may also help.