When swimming pools open, will they be safe?

Whilst the Government has allowed restaurants, pubs and shops to reopen their doors, leisure centres and swimming pools have remained firmly shut. But do not fear, avid swimmers, that’s expected to change. 

The Government will announce on Thursday that swimming pools will open by the end of the month. So what will a post-lockdown swim look like, and is it safe? Here’s what to know before going for a dip: 

When are swimming pools and leisure centres expected to reopen?

The exact date has not yet been confirmed, but ministers have suggested swimming pools and leisure centres could reopen later this month. The Government will announce its latest lifting of lockdown measures this evening, with details on safety precautions to follow. 

As seen with pubs, restaurants and shops, social distancing guidelines will be enforced at swimming pools at all times to minimise the risk of infection. 

Experts have said that leisure centres would need at least three weeks notice before opening up to members of the public.

When they do reopen, will swimming lessons restart?

Guidelines on swimming lessons haven’t been addressed, but Swim England, the national body for swimming, is hopeful. 

Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, has said swim lessons and community activities could continue “as long as they are programmed and maintain a distance”. 

Swim England has been working with pool operators to set safety guidelines, as well as chlorination rules for facilities when they open.

How could Covid-19 be spread at a swimming pool?

There is no evidence that coronavirus can spread to humans through the use of swimming pools, but it is possible in changing rooms.

“In the early days, it may be that you are encouraged not to use the changing rooms,” Nickerson said. “We’re suggesting going ‘beach ready’. Some pools might ask you just to put on a towelling robe and – let’s hope you’re not on a bus, you’re in a car – travel home like that.”

People may be told to change by the pool and put their valuables in a bag inside a locker.

Social distancing rules would still apply in the water, and a standard 25-metre pool could be modified so it has three lanes, rather than the normal six.

Pools may be divided for family sessions so that each household has their own area. 

Is there any evidence that coronavirus could spread in water?

According to the World Health Organisation, chlorine kills the virus, which means treatment of pool water is of the utmost importance. 

“Scientifically, water that is well filtered with the appropriate level of disinfectant has been shown to be an environment where viruses and bacteria cannot survive,” said Richard Lamburn, head of facilities at Swim England

“What’s more, chlorination, high temperatures and high humidity in the environment significantly reduce the transmission and spread of this virus,” Lamburn said.

Swim England has set chlorine targets for pools when they reopen, and some may have to up the amount they use.

How do I keep myself and my children safe from Covid-19 at the pool?

As the Government announces next steps for swimming pools, it’s important to follow social distancing guidelines and rules set by your neighbourhood facility. 

Swim England has published a list of guidelines for swimmers called “Returning To The Pool” ahead of pools reopening which sets out specific guidelines for families.

Read more: How swimming pools could reopen

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