Pool management companies scrambling to open pools

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Many pools in North Carolina won’t be opening right away, but when they do, you can expect a lot of changes. For example, pool chairs will remain stacked, because you’ll have to bring your own.

Zach Dussault can’t wait for his neighborhood pool to open. The pool in Starclare is currently being remodeled and will open in a few weeks.

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“I think everybody has got to be careful. I think you have to listen to the guidance of the health officials from the state.. but if we all maintain social distance, we can all make it work,” said Dussault.

North Carolina pools can reopen under Phase 2, but it’s a question of if they will. Jeff Gaeckle of Carolina Pool Management oversees 160 pools in the Charlotte area. He said only one pool will reopen Saturday as a pilot. The rest likely around June 1.

“We have to be careful, we have to be methodical about how we do things, we have to follow the steps. If we just open them up and say c’mon, let’s go ... these things will be shut down as quick as they opened,” said Gaeckle.

While pool management companies, homeowner associations and property owners anticipated pools to reopen now, guidance from the state only came two days ago.

Gaeckle said pool companies are scrambling to meet the requirements, like adding social distancing signs and calculating the maximum occupancy for how many people can be at the pool and in it. More on the rules are listed below. Gaeckle said they also need time to train staff to work the pools.

“We haven’t been able to use the pools to do our typical lifeguard training courses, so now all of a sudden the pools are open and available to use but we don’t have the guards certified, so we are doing a mad dash to get certain guards on deck,” said Gaeckle.

Each pool needs a permit from the county in order to operate. So far, Mecklenburg County has issued nearly 800 permits, but again, not all will reopen immediately.

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Public swimming pools may operate under the following conditions:

  • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable area.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers and workers about social distancing (staying at least six (6) feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

While this Executive Order is in effect, all open pool facilities must do the following:

“Limit the user capacity in the pool to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as determined by fire code (or, when fire code number is not known, thirty-three (33) people per one thousand (1000) square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads), and a maximum occupancy in the water often (10) people per one thousand (1000) square feet. This user capacity is the Emergency Maximum Occupancy for the pool facility.”