The current situation has not only turned our daily lives upside down but is also affecting our holidays. The safety regulations in public swimming pools approved by Decree 485/2019 include aspects such as measuring twice a day the routine control, checking the contents of the first aid kit or including ammonia and copper in the water tests. What nobody expected was that the Covid-19 would last until the summer and public swimming pools would be forced to take extra safety measures.
Community pools have to follow the normal swimming pool regulations with the extra safety measures that each autonomous community or the central government determines at any given time. An example of this is maintaining the safety distance, reducing the capacity if the separation between bathers cannot be guaranteed, the use of the obligatory mask when we are moving through the space (out of the water).
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What standards guarantee safety from COVID in public swimming pools?
The Community regulations that have been most rapidly applied are those that keep changing rooms and public baths closed. No public swimming pool can have these open spaces and they can only be used in emergencies under supervision.
Barefoot access is forbidden, hydroalcoholic gel must be provided at the entrance to public or community pools, a cleaning protocol must be established and repeated 3 times a day and great attention must be paid to water quality and residual chlorine and ph levels.
New regulations for community pools
Community pools have to follow the same rules as public pools regardless of whether they are within a private urbanisation. Crowds are not allowed either, with the number of pools constantly being adjusted by the autonomous community in which they are located.
In the Community of Madrid the swimming pools can have a maximum capacity of 50% (adjustable according to the current situation), while in Andalusia a capacity of 75% is allowed. In all cases a minimum safety distance must be maintained, which is between 1.5-3m.
Owners or neighbours for rent are invited not to bring guests to the communal pool as, outside of the alarm state, it is permitted but it is a high risk area as it is a confluence of a large number of neighbours. The residents’ association may prohibit the access of guests if there is a majority agreement between the owners.
What elements must a swimming pool have in order to guarantee the healthiness of its waters?
In addition to including water treatment and control, cleaning and disinfection, pest control and following the new safety regulations for public swimming pools. Attention must be paid to disinfectant for swimming pools, not only for bathers but also for the water, since an adequate concentration of chlorine (0.5 mg/l) can eliminate the coronavirus from the pool water.
To do this, within the hygiene and safety regulations for public swimming pools, the levels of free residual chlorine must be measured several times a day, determining that if this level is lower than 0.5, bathing is prohibited. As well as maintaining the pH of the water in a range between 7.2 and 7.4.
To ensure that the level of free chlorine is maintained at this level, an automatic dosage device can be used, which, in the case where the community pool has more than 20 homes, will be obligatory.
The opening of the public swimming pools is being carried out with special caution, but the truth is that the vast majority of infections in this second wave are occurring in private environments such as meetings of friends, family or work. This has led to communities such as Madrid and Andalusia banning the opening of public swimming pools and, if the safety regulations for public swimming pools are not followed, we could see that they are also being asked to close in order to control contagion.