New Department of Health Pool Standards
This week, the New Jersey Department of Health released revised Covid-19 Pools and Aquatic Recreation Facility Standards, dated May 7, 2021 (“New Standards”). If you compare the Standards published last year with the New Standards, you will note that the requirement of a pool ambassador has been eliminated. The role of Pool Ambassador in last year’s Standards read, “Implementation of an ambassador role to monitor and encourage social distancing of bathers on the pool deck.” (Section I(3), Page 2).
For those who opened their pools last year, however, and for many who have decided to open their pools this year, the ambassador role has generally expanded such that the ambassador role carried(ies) a great deal more responsibility than just reminding people to keep 6 feet apart and keep their masks on. The description of the role is commonly as follows:
- Developing nondiscriminatory practices with regard to implementing an appointment or reservation system, as well as administer it and enforce it.
- Placing circles around the pool at 6-foot intervals.
- Enforcing social distancing.
- Prohibiting guests from entering the pool area.
- Ensuring that those using the pool bring their own chairs.
- Enforcing of the wearing of face coverings by children 2 years of age and older.
- Staggering of entry and exit points.
- Posting signs advising to be on the lookout for signs of illness or to stay home of you are not feeling well or have COVID-19.
- Ensuring that all residents and staff sign in to assist with contact tracing.
- Providing hand sanitizer stations.
- Designating an emergency care room located outdoors with a protective covering, such as a canopy or other covering, to be used for the emergency care of injured/ill bathers (applicable to facilities that can accommodate 500 bathers or more before capacity reductions).
- Rest Room Use: Substantial additional sanitation would be required, several times each day. No barefoot use of the restrooms would be allowed.
- Designating an individual to oversee restroom and/or shower access.
- Screening staff for COVID-19 each day.
- Disinfecting high-touch surfaces several times daily.
- Working with the Association as to the Association’s hiring and implementation of an ambassador role to monitor and encourage social distancing of bathers on the pool deck.
- Limit patrons in indoor areas to a number equaling 25 percent of the establishment's indoor capacity. The capacity may be increased by State or Federal orders.
- Improve ventilation by increasing circulation of outdoor air as much as possible. Consider using high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems to enhance air quality.
- Restrict lap swimming to one direction per lane or one swimmer per lane and require individuals to maintain social distancing.
- Diving boards are approved for use and must maintain proper social distancing.
- Swimming lessons and other types of public use is allowed to open for use.
- Slides and diving boards less than 15 feet high and not part of an indoor waterpark is allowed to open.
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high touch points is required. Indoor locker rooms are to remain closed and/or patrons monitored to ensure social distancing is maintained within the enclosed space.
- Face coverings shall be worn by spectators on the pool deck unless doing so would inhibit the individual's health or the individual is under the age of two.
- Ambassador will clean (wearing gloves and a mask) in between the three (3) swimming sessions.
- Monitor wearing of masks and maintaining six (6) feet of social distancing to entry/exit points and bathrooms to avoid congregating.
- Frequently clean touch points in pool area and restrooms.
- Maintain pool capacity limits.
Under the New Standards, many of the above-stated functions will still be required. The new Rules still require that the Association train and equip the following personnel on Covid-19 awareness, routine cleaning and disinfecting to perform their assigned duties in a manner that promotes safety of the Public and staff. The New Standards require the following:
- A Pool Director (when required) (See N.J.A.C. § 8:26-5.2 regarding a Pool Director for pools larger than 2,000 square feet;
- A Lifeguard where required by N.J.A.C. 8:26, with an active duty guard to perform only the role of lifeguard, and not simultaneously serve as an active lifeguard. Another lifeguard who is not actively guarding the pool can assume other roles. (The question is whether this is wise. The job was to confront people who were not wearing masks or social distancing. Whether that should be done by a young lifeguard is an important question.)
- Additional Role Designation:
- COVID Point of Contact – a role with the facility which should be knowledgeable on COVID-19 response, communication, and awareness of activities. The designee should serve as the point of contact for staff, patrons and the local health authority in contact tracing efforts. The role may be performed by existing employees, unless that is employee is on active lifeguard duty and/or residents or owners of the facility, as applicable.
- Document COVID awareness training and risk reduction strategies for any personnel.
- Develop a Police Notification policy and reporting procedures in the event of non-compliance with any activities required by Executive Order.
Those communities with regular staff may be able to eliminate the ambassador position in favor of having others divide up the duties listed above, but in many other communities, especially those without a regular staff, the performance of those duties might still require a person like an ambassador to perform them.
Careful review of the Municipal Plan that must be submitted to the local health authority must be reviewed to determine how the requirements of the new regulations would be enforced.
The information in this Client Alert is provided solely for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular circumstances. Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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