Pool Openings in Ocean City
Worcester County Gave Guidance
The answer to if a pool is open in Ocean City or beyond in Worcester County is…
Recreational pools are not open. Semi-public pools are open. Companies offering semi-public pools must adhere to the below guidelines, one of which is no more than 10 people in a pool. (For additional guidelines for semi-public pools please scroll to the end of the article.)
We asked for further guidance to determine what is recreational and what is semi-public. The County said most condominiums and hotels are classified as semi-public, but they do have some that are classified as recreational. Any facility that charges a fee or has water play equipment will fall under the recreational classification.
Here is the code regulations to determine classification:
(23) “Semipublic pool” and “semipublic spa” mean a pool or spa at a facility that:
(a) Has pool use or spa use restricted to an individual:
(i) Staying at the facility, where the facility is a temporary dwelling, including a hotel, motel, campground, bed and breakfast having nine or more guest rooms, or similar temporary dwelling;
(ii) Holding membership at the facility, where the facility is an adult health club, retirement community, marina, condominium, or similar facility;
(iii) Residing at an apartment complex, housing subdivision, or mobile home park with ten units or less;
(iv) Receiving treatment at a physical therapy center pool, or spa, where the pool or spa is used for providing therapy; or
(v) Who is the owner or an owner of the pool or spa; and
(b) Has a pool or spa that is not:
(i) Open for admission to the general public, except as provided in §B(23)(a) of this regulation;
(ii) Available to an individual upon the payment of a fee for the use of the pool and spa;
(iii) A limited public-use pool, a private pool, a private spa, or a recreational pool, as defined in §B(7), (17), and (18) of this regulation;
(iv) Equipped with a sliding board, diving platform, water slide, water flume, or water recreational play equipment that is built into or attached to the pool structure; and
(v) At a bed and breakfast that has eight or fewer guest rooms.
The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 10.17.01.05B(19) defines a semi-public pool or spa as:
(19) “Recreational pool” means a pool that:
(a) Is not a limited public-use pool, private pool, or semipublic pool, as defined in §B(7), (17), and (23) of this regulation;
(b) Is provided as the owner’s primary business or the facility’s primary purpose, for example, a swim club or similar facility;
(c) Is open for general admission to the public;
(d) Is available to an individual paying a fee for use of the pool;
(e) Is equipped with a sliding board, diving platform, water slide, water flume, or water recreational play equipment that is built into or attached to the pool structure;
(f) Is provided by, or used by a:
(i) Youth camp;
(ii) College, university, or school;
(iv) Water park, amusement park, or water recreational attraction as defined in §B(34) of this regulation; or
(v) An apartment complex, housing subdivision, or mobile home park with more than ten units, except as provided in §B(23)(a)(v) of this regulation; or
(g) Is used more than 4 times a week for swimming lessons, water safety instruction, or swimming competition.
Guidelines to open pools
Prepare the Facility/Grounds
- Number of patrons will follow the capacity limit set by the Governor’s Executive order, currently this is 10 or fewer people so as not to constitute a large gathering.
- Facility will track pool capacity using a sign in/out sheet or another appropriate method.
- Implement physical distancing requirements between patrons or household groups at the facility, change deck layout to ensure that in the standing or seating areas, individuals or household groups can remain at least 6 feet apart. No gatherings or events.
- Implement physical distancing where patrons form a line waiting for the pool to open or for someone to leave so they can enter.
- For indoor pools, meet current standards for ventilation and dehumidification, Increase introduction and circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans or other methods. Do not open windows or doors if doing so poses a safety risk to staff or patrons.
- Maintain supply of soap for hand washing and showers, and hand sanitizer.
- Ensure that all water systems (e.g., drinking fountains, decorative fountains, heated pools) are safe to use after prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
- Ensure there is adequate equipment for patrons and swimmers (e.g., kickboards and pool noodles) to minimize sharing to the extent possible, or limiting the use of equipment by one group of users at a time and cleaning and disinfecting between use.
Prepare the Employees
- Staff who interact with patrons or other staff must wear face coverings.
- Lifeguards should not wear face coverings in the water.
- Provide and use one-way valve masks for CPR.
- Monitor staff absenteeism, require staff to stay home if sick, have a plan to ensure required staffing. If possible, vulnerable staff should be allowed to telework.
- For staff training, including lifeguard certification, maintain physical distancing and, except in the water, wear face coverings for in-person training. Provide online training for classroom portions of training. Train staff on new hygiene procedures.
Prepare your Patrons
- Patrons should be alone or with members of their household.
- Patrons should stay at least 6 feet apart (both in and out of the water) from other individuals not from their household.
- At indoor pools, patrons should wear face coverings unless swimming or showering.
- At outdoor pools, patrons should wear face coverings when interacting with staff or other individuals not from their household.
- Patrons should not wear face coverings in the water.
- Shared objects: patrons should be discouraged from sharing objects that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face (for example, goggles, nose clips, and snorkels). Patrons should also be discouraged from sharing items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don’t live with.
- Post signs telling patrons not to enter if sick.
- Post hand washing reminders and cover your cough reminders.
- Post reminders to shower before entering the pool.
- MDH prepared signs are available here: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/business-resources
Cleaning and Disinfection
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as pool railings, deck furniture, water fountains, door knobs, and entry gates twice per day, and more often if needed due to the number of patrons.
- Clean and disinfect in accordance with CDC and EPA guidelines on COVID-19 and product instructions.
- Maintain daily cleaning of the facility (floors, toilets, etc.) with soap and water.
- Train staff on guidelines and product instructions for cleaning and disinfecting.
- Follow instructions for use and storage on the product label.
- Disinfection products must be appropriate for the intended use.
- The pool may need to temporarily close if the lifeguard on duty must clean and disinfect the pool area.
- Facility will clean/brush pool tile/wall at the water line to reduce slime and biofilm once a week or more if needed.
- Maintain chlorine and pH levels per current regulation, including shock or superchlorination as needed.
- Notify the local health department that the pool will open, annual operation license is required per current regulation.