Updates to Important Guidance
Updated Reopening Guidance
Washington State Department of Health issued guidance on reopening of Water Recreation Facilities on May 18
after the Governor’s Office issued their Safe Start plans and Phased Approach. Since then many things have happened, and the guidance document had to be revised with updated information. The updated version of the guidance document is now posted and
Changes that took place in this updated version that may be of your interest are:
Under the Personal Hygiene title, new information is provided to explain how the mask mandate order is to be applied at a water recreation facility. A link to the Health Secretary’s order is provided for reference.
To summarize, the only times (places) where patrons don’t have to wear masks are:
Outdoor facilities while maintaining 6-foot minimum physical distancing
Indoor facilities while maintaining 6-foot minimum physical distancing AND being in the water being active (swimming, using a waterslide, taking a shower, etc. where the mask will get wet)
Patrons and staff must wear masks at times and places including but not limited to:
Using an indoor spa even with 6-foot physical distancing
Lounging on the pool deck at an indoor facility even with physical distancing
Lifeguarding on the pool deck at an indoor facility even with physical distancing
Updated COVID-19 symptoms according to the latest information from CDC
Added “Modified Phase 1” and provided a link to the guidance document on “Staffed Water Recreation Facility” published by the Governor’s Office.
Provided a link to Bather/Occupancy Guidance for Phases 3 and 4
Provided a link to lifeguard training plans developed by Washington Recreation & Park Association and endorsed by DOH and L&I.
Clarifications for “Staffed Water Recreation Facilities” guidance from the Governor’s Office
The updated and revised guidance can be
. When this guidance first came out, it caused a lot of confusion among operators and regulators as it conflicted with WAC 246-260 for Water Recreation Facilities. Since it has been revised, most sources of confusion have been eliminated. Many people are still confused about what this guidance allows and what it doesn’t allow. Highlighted below are some of the main issues that have been clarified by the Washington State Department of Health.
- This guidance applies only to general use (public and municipal) swimming pools during Phases 1.5 and 2. No limited use (HOA, apartment, and hotel) pools are included.
- This guidance applies only during Phases 1.5 and 2. From Phase 3 and onward, DOH guidance applies.
- Only one person in each lane for lap-swimming. Some people ask why two or more people can’t swim in the same lane. The answer is that if they lap swim back and forth in the same lane, they will swim past each other at some point and will not be maintaining 6 feet between them.
- Some argue that USA Swimming guidelines allow two or more people to lap swim in the same lane. That is true, but the requirements in the guidance are stricter, and they prevail.
- 6-foot minimum physical distancing applies at all times, INCLUDING instructors and their students. In order to protect the instructors from the students, we cannot allow instructors to get within 6 feet of their students. There are other alternatives instructors can use such as using the parents to provide physical support and using equipment (a long strap attached to a kickboard and long pool noodles, etc.)