Governor Jay Inslee issued new parameters surrounding staffed water recreation facilities opening earlier than Phase 3, but that does not appear to have changed anything for the Quincy Aquatic Center to open this summer.
The new requirements issued on June 9 would allow public and private recreation and lap pools to reopen sooner than Phase 3. The requirements do not apply to pools that have “waterpark-like features such as water slides or waterparks, lazy rivers, surf pools, wave pools or splash pads.” according to the press release.
Authorized operations would include appointment-only lap swimming, one-on-one lessons, and small group classes of five people or less. The facility must limit capacity to 25 percent of the normal building occupancy or less.
Prior to reopening, all water recreation facilities are required to develop for each location a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan.
Even with the new guidelines from Inslee, there has been no change in plans to open the aquatic center this summer, said Russ Harrington, Quincy Recreation Director. He addressed that the issue was not in the water but rather everything outside of it.
The biggest issue is training for the lifeguards, Harrington said. Lifeguards need yearly training to refresh their skills and there has been no clear guidance issued in allowing lifeguards to break social distancing guidelines in order to do parts of their training that must be done closer than six feet from others, such as water rescue and CPR training.
Harrington also says that this late in the season makes it nearly impossible to open the pool before the season closes because there has been no preparation of the pool or training started for the lifeguards, which would take weeks to complete before the pool could open. The normal preparations for the pool opening happen from March to May for the regular June to August season.
“It wasn’t a snap decision,” Harrington said. There was lots of research and contact with other pools in the state and programs to try to figure out how the lifeguards could be trained and the pool could be opened. The uncertainty and non-clarity of advice for how to proceed did not allow for Quincy to come up with a secure plan to move forward. “It would take a pretty big miracle for anything to happen this summer,” he added.
Harrington encourages citizens to reach out if they have any questions regarding the Aquatic Center’s closure and said he would be happy to explain all of the research and reasoning that went into the decision to close the pool.
Currently, they are focusing on planning how to open the pool for next year since things most likely will not return to the way they were prior to COVID-19.