On Tuesday, June 9, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 153 which permitted outdoor swimming pools to open effective 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 22, 2020. Additionally, indoor pools were permitted to reopen as of Thursday, July 2, 2020 per Executive Directive 20-022. As such, apartment communities are allowed to open swimming pools, as well as hot tubs. However, any pool facility that opens must comply with the health and safety standards issued by the NJ Department of Health (DOH).

The New Jersey COVID-19 Pools and Aquatic Recreation Facility Standards provides operational guidance, and health and safety standards, that must be followed at any pool facility that opens. Each facility that plans to reopen will need to carefully review the standards; however, NJAA has highlighted several of the requirements below:

  • A pool facility must develop and implement a COVID-19 Pool Operation Prevention Plan (CPOPP), to be incorporated into the Aquatics Facility Plan (AFP). Both the AFP and CPOPP must be submitted to the local health authority and approved prior to opening.
  • Pool facilities must hire adequate staff and train personnel on COVID-19 awareness, as well as proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures to promote the safety of the public and staff. This includes the pool director (pools larger than 2,000 square feet), lifeguards (unless otherwise exempt), and a COVID contact person. This also includes an “ambassador” to monitor and encourage social distancing, and ensure that facility equipment (lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, etc.) is only available to one individual or group at a time and cleaned and disinfected after use.
  • Prior to entering the facility, staff must be screened for a fever and other signs of COVID-19 related illness.
  • Outdoor pool facilities must reduce capacity to 50% of the maximum capacity for the facility and grounds at one time and stagger access to entry and exit points to avoid congregation. Signage must be posted that patrons should be alert for signs of illness and to stay home when they have symptoms of COVID-19 or are sick.
  • The guidelines recommend a bather load of 28 sq. ft./person and a chart with more information is available in the guidance.
  • A sign in sheet must be maintained for all staff and patrons to facilitate potential contact tracing efforts.
  • Pool facilities that can accommodate 500 bathers or more before capacity reductions are implemented, must designate an outdoor COVID-19 emergency care room to care for injured/ill bathers.
  • Pool facilities must develop and implement enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures following CDC guidelines. Facilities must frequently clean and disinfect high traffic areas, major touch points and areas open to the public.
  • Sanitizer stations must be provided throughout the facility and the facility must ensure an adequate quantity of cleaning supplies.
  • The sharing of furniture and equipment (such as lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels etc.) is prohibited, except among immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners, and they must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Patrons are permitted to use their own water play equipment, but the facility shall not provide such equipment for rent or other use.
  • Occupancy in restrooms, shower areas and locker rooms must be limited to allow for social distancing, and foot coverings are required within these areas.
  • Staff and patrons are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering while not in the pool when social distancing cannot be maintained. However, face coverings should NOT be allowed in the water, lifeguards should NOT wear a face covering while actively lifeguarding, and children under the age of two should NOT wear a face covering.
  • Pool facilities must implement measures to ensure social distancing is maintained both in the water and on the pool deck. This includes, but is not limited to, using visible markings, postings, or signage, and demarcating six feet of spacing where people may form a line.
  • Pool facilities must develop and implement a communications plan to communicate restrictions, set expectations and emphasize the importance of social distancing and personal hygiene.
  • While food service is permitted at pool facilities, it will need to comply with all outdoor dining protocols previously outlined by the Governor and gloves should be worn when handling or serving food to patrons. Additionally, tables or other equipment which impede social distancing should be removed or restricted.
  • Pool facilities must revise emergency evacuation procedures to ensure social distancing protocols allow for safe evacuation or patrons.
  • Additionally, pool facilities are permitted to open prior to June 22 for lifeguard training and lifeguard swimming lessons.

In addition to the standards outlined above, indoor pool facilities must also follow the protocols outlined below:

  • Indoor pool facilities must reduce capacity to 25 percent of the establishment’s indoor capacity.
  • To improve ventilation, indoor pool facilities must increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible and should consider using HEPA filtration systems to enhance air quality.
  • When lap swimming, individuals are required to maintain social distancing. Lanes must also be restricted to one direction per lane, or one swimmer per lane.
  • Slides and diving boards less than 15 feet high, and not part of an indoor waterpark can open. However, proper social distancing protocols and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols must be followed.
  • Swimming lessons and other types of public use can open.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high touch points is required.
  • Indoor locker rooms are to remain closed, unless patrons are monitored to ensure social distancing is maintained within the enclosed space.
  • Face coverings must be worn on the pool deck, unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or the individual is under the age of two.

For a complete copy of the New Jersey COVID-19 Pools and Aquatic Recreation Facility Standards released by the DOH, please click here.