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Checklist: Texas pools must follow these guidelines when reopening

Local public swimming pools may operate only if permitted by the local government, according to Gov. Abbott's order.

TEXAS, USA — On Tuesday, May 5, Gov. Greg Abbott gave an update on what the state is doing in response to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Abbott announced more services and businesses that may reopen Friday, May 8, in Texas, including a revision to his order regarding parks, beaches and bodies of water. 

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Under the governor's revised order, "parks, beaches, rivers and lakes may be open, effective May 8, 2020, and indoor swimming pools may operate up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the swimming pool facility and outdoor swimming pools may operate up to 25% of the normal operating limits as determined by the swimming pool operator. Local public swimming pools may so operate only if permitted by the local government."

Here are the guidelines and safety protocols that must be followed according to the governor's website

  • Maintain at least six feet separation from others not within the individual’s group at the park, beach, river, or lake. The individual’s group may not exceed the greater of the individual’s household or up to five individuals who go to the park, beach, river, or lake together. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
  • Self-screen before going to a park, beach, or other public open space for any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat 
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Known close contact with a person who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19

  • Wash or disinfect hands after any interaction with employees, other customers, or items in the park, beach, river or lake.

  • Consistent with the actions taken by many individuals across the state, consider wearing cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) at a park, beach, river, or lake when within six feet of another person who is not a member of the individual’s group. The individual’s group may not exceed the greater of the individual’s household or up to five individuals who arrived at the park, beach, river, or lake together. If available, individuals should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks. Face coverings may not be feasible while in the water.

  • Clean and sanitize recreational water equipment before and after use.

  • Special consideration for river rafting and similar activities:

    • Any vehicle used to transport individuals between places along the river must be cleaned and disinfected between uses.

    • If such a vehicle is a bus, alternate rows should be used.

    • Individuals should not sit within six feet of any other person not with the individual’s group.

    • Individuals should sanitize hands before getting onto such a vehicle.

    • Face coverings are strongly recommended while on the vehicle.

  • Individuals aged 65 or older are at a higher risk of COVID-19. To the extent possible, avoid contact within six feet with individuals aged 65 and older. Individuals aged 65 and older should stay at home as much as possible.

The City of Austin, in particular, has an interactive map on its website which shows the hours of operation for public pools. You can view that here

KVUE has reached out to the City of Austin regarding its plans to reopen public swimming pools citywide. The City issued this statement: 

"The Austin Parks and Recreation Department's pools will reopen when they can do so in a manner that does not jeopardize the health and safety of its employees and the community it serves. With the help of the City of Austin and Austin Public Health and its partner agencies, PARD will continue to monitor public health recommendations as they pertain to reopening City facilities and develop its reopening plan." 

WATCH: What Gov. Greg Abbott announced in his May 5, 2020 press conference

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