New York Set to Open Pools Under Local Oversight; Other State News

2016 Big East Swimming and Diving Championship on Feb. 26, 2016 at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, New York.
Nassau Aquatic Center Photo Courtesy: Villanova Athletics Media Relations

One of the few states to remain closed for swimming, New York, took a significant step toward reopening pools Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will turn over the decision on when to open public swimming pools to local governments, as five of the state’s 10 regions have advanced to Phase 3 of the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan, NY Forward.

Many areas remain stuck in Phase 2, including New York City, Long Island, the region around the capital Albany, the Hudson Valley and Western New York. Much of the middle of the state, however, is on to Phase 3.

Cuomo’s office published (pdf) “Interim Guidance for Pools and Recreational Aquatic Spray Grounds” Thursday, but he said that the final say will belong to local authorities.

“Local governments will have to use their judgment here,” Cuomo said. “They have the test at a and should be studying it. We can see where the positive (COVID-19) cases are coming from, so if you’re in a (hot spot) neighborhood, don’t open the pools. I understand everyone wants to swim, but everyone also doesn’t want to see a spike in COVID again.”

Areas of Virginia remain slow to reopen, but there are glimmers of hope. Richmond will be able to open swimming pools Friday as it enters Phase 2, however they are limited to exercise and instruction classes with strict prohibitions on sharing equipment. Northern Virginia is in the same boat, though the City of Alexandria is not yet opening its public pools.

Among the other limits set by the state of Virginia in Phase 2 are no more than three swimmers per lane/diving area, 10 feet of physical distance at all times, hand sanitizing stations, regular disinfecting of furniture and surfaces, masks for all staff (except for “lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers”), and health screening prior to entry of the facility.

As Iowa progresses through its COVID-19 reopening, many businesses were allowed Wednesday to open at full capacity. That step allows swimming pools to open for the first time Friday. Pools, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds, will be subject to public health guidelines. Pools in Minnesota were allowed to reopen Wednesday.

In Arizona, Phoenix has announced that it will keep its 29 city pools and splash pads closed for the summer, but other large cities are opening. AZ Central has a look at which cities are opening and which are not. Las Vegas is aiming for next Monday, June 15, to reopen most of its city pools, with capacity limitations and reserved times. Omaha announced Thursday that it will not open swimming pools this summer.

Swimming Through a Pandemic

The postponements and cancellations wrought by COVID-19 haven’t just affected the Olympics and the ranks of elite swimmers. They’ve trickled down to neighborhood clubs and summer youth leagues, affecting thousands of recreational and competitive swimmers alike. Here is some of our coverage of COVID-19’s effect on the American summer swimming calendar.

Resources for returning to the pool in the COVID-19 era

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1 comment

  1. avatar

    As far as I know NYC is still in Phase I. The state of NJ is set to enter Phase II on June 22. It may be that NYC will do the same since we share a very porous border economically and in terms of transportation with North Jersey.

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