In addition to the Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Swimming Pools and Whirlpools, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has answered some frequently asked questions about safe operations of swimming pools during the pandemic:

Does each facility need a satisfactory water sample prior to opening?
You should contact your local public health inspector to review the steps for reopening, to re-establish satisfactory pool water quality, and to review the COVID response measures. Based on capacity, a public health inspector may be able to arrange an onsite inspection prior to reopening, but ultimately, the facility must confirm water quality with a satisfactory bacteriological water result.

Are hot air dryers allowed for drying hands?
Physical hand drying with paper towels is preferred to hot air dryers as it reduces the risk of germs being spread through the air; however, hot air dryers are allowed following proper handwashing.

How should a hotel determine a capacity limit to ensure physical distancing of two metres?
Each facility should determine the maximum number of patrons based on the size of the deck, number of pool basin(s), and the ability to maintain two metre physical distance (except for between family or cohort members).

Would it be reasonable to have a sign at the front, “Limit to ## households and maintain your physical distancing”?
Yes, it would be reasonable to have a sign specifying the total number of people allowed in the facility and reminding patrons about physical distancing.

Since chlorinated pool water is an effective disinfectant, can it be used to disinfect pool equipment, such as tubes, poles, and life jackets?
No, this is not recommended. The level of chlorine in pool water is sufficient to inactivate the coronavirus in the water and it is safe to swim in the pool. However, pool water chemistry tends to fluctuate and it is more reliable to clean and disinfect equipment using appropriate cleaning and disinfection processes.

Should we use quaternary ammonia cleaning products (QUATs) as a low level disinfectant for surfaces in a pool area?
There are a variety of disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19, but some, such as quaternary ammonia, are not compatible with a pool environment. Review the manufacturer’s information for your disinfectant(s) to find out if your cleaning products contain QUATs and avoid using them in areas where they may drain into the pool water.

Should guests take cleansing showers before and/or after swimming?
It is still important to take a cleansing shower prior to swimming in order to reduce the microbes and dirt that would be introduced into the pool.

Will there be a specific form available that guests need to complete when they use the pool to assist with contact tracing?
No, there is no specific form. The hotel may choose how to best collect the contact information for attendees. Please refer to the Contact Tracing information outlined in Guidance for Swimming Pools and Whirlpools.

Our thanks to AHLA member Michael Shandro of the Best Western City Centre Hotel in Edmonton for representing the interests of hotels in discussions with AHS about the relaunch of swimming pools in the province.