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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Public Health publishes a protocol for swimming pools against COVID-19

Lago Martiánez in Puerto de la Cruz

The document, agreed with the autonomous communities and the sector, establishes the necessary preparatory measures for the opening of pools when this is permitted according to the phases of the transition plan towards a new normality.

The Ministry of Health has just published a protocol whose objective is to establish basic security measures to ensure the health of citizens in swimming pools. This document, agreed upon with the autonomous communities and the sector that manages this type of establishment, will enter into force only and exclusively when the Transition Plan towards a new normality establishes that opening is possible.

An important aspect to take into account is the ventilation of closed spaces, such as changing rooms and bathrooms, medicine cabinets and technical rooms. Overcrowding and the absence of ventilation are factors that favor the transmission of the virus. It is thus recommended to open exterior doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. And, in the event that ventilation is provided through mechanical means, they must be kept in a good state of maintenance, cleanliness and adequate degree of disinfection.

In addition, it is essential that an exhaustive cleaning is carried out before disinfecting all the furniture (glass, ropes, stainless steel ladders, showers, walls, lockers, etc.), and paying special attention to the surfaces most frequently contacted, such as taps, railings, or door knobs. The protocol draws attention to the fact that disinfection is ineffective if the surface has not previously been made devoid of dirt that can serve as a refuge for microorganisms.

Likewise, it is urged that, in addition to this document, a specific protocol be available that responds to the specific characteristics of each installation. In general, aspects such as disposable wipes and materials should not be forgotten, or cleaning and disinfection must be carried out properly. Regarding disinfectants, dilutions of freshly prepared 1:50 bleach or any of the disinfectants with virucidal activity that are on the market and that have been authorized and registered by the Ministry of Health may be used.

The water in the pools must have a physical and chemical purification process, renewed by feed/inflow water and by carrying out operational or routine controls. To eliminate the virus, the treatment and residual disinfection levels in the water must be correctly maintained.

The hospitality establishments that are located in the pool must follow the protocols corresponding to this sector. And, sports facilities and playgrounds may not be used until this is established in the appropriate phase of de-escalation.

Capacity and access control

It is proposed as a restrictive measure of at least doubling the area per person in outdoor spaces and tripling it in covered spaces. These measures are indicative and depending on the configuration of the pool and the public area, more restrictive measures may be established to ensure social distancing.

It will be the lifeguard or personnel designated by the manager of the facility, who are responsible for supervising the number of bathers in each of the pools and restricting access to them and in accordance with the legislation in force in each autonomous community.

For the entrance to the pool it is proposed to draw or place lines on the reception floor that mark the minimum distance between people of 2 meters to access the counter and the entrance.

In the event that the access barrier is a turnstile, it is preferable to touch it with clothing [rather than hands]. And, if the installation allows it, it is recommended to use one designated entrance door and a separate exit door to try to avoid crossings as much as possible.

Other security measures

The protocol states that establishments must have systems for hand disinfection at the entrance and incorporate a shoe cleaning and disinfection system at the entrance, as well as recommending the use of exclusive footwear within the facility.

In addition, a plastic bag for disposable material will be made available to users that must be deposited closed conveniently in a garbage can (with lid and pedal) at the exit and,
 payment by credit card or through mobile applications will be favored .

The importance of disseminating prevention messages through posters and / or public address is also emphasized. The signs will remind you of good public hygiene practices such as showering before entering the pool or washing bathing suits and towels, to eliminate all bacteria or viruses.

Measures in common areas

The pools must have a spatial distribution of at least 2 meters among users that will be marked on the ground. All personal items such as towels, sun cream containers, shoes, backpacks, etc., must remain within the established security perimeter and avoid contact with other users.

Cleaning and disinfection of bathing areas and transit areas should be carried out at least twice a day, with special emphasis on the most frequented areas such as changing rooms, lockers, showers and toilets.

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