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Subject: Covid-19 Reopening - Pool and Clubhouse
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Author Messages
BillB17
(South Carolina)

Posts:60


05/11/2020 5:19 PM  
We are a 400 home HOA in South Carolina. Today, our governor approved reopening of public pools and other public places which would include our community pool and clubhouse.

SC and the CDC have issued Guidelines for reopening public pools and clubhouses which include (main points only)

1. Operate facilities at 20% of normal capacity or 5 people per sq ft of pool deck area.
2. Disinfect bathrooms, door handles, handrails, ladders, gates, water fountains after each use by a different person.
3. Provide hand sanitizer for use by all visitors.
4. Provide signs and 6 foot areas related to social distancing.

Is anyone in the process of reopening or has anyone already gone through the process of reopening their facilities? Can you share your experience and what measures you took.

The guidelines are not mandatory, only guidelines. I serve on our BOD and we have varying opinions on what obligations we have on this subject. One member even says do nothing and leave it up to up members to practice safe behaviors.

Thanks for any input you can provide.

Bill
BillB17
(South Carolina)

Posts:60


05/11/2020 5:27 PM  
Clicked submit too soon - sorry.

Further, our pool and clubhouse are not monitored so maintaining the 20% capacity would be difficult. Who would be responsible for the sanitation of bathrooms, doors, gates, tables, chairs, etc? If we should provide hand sanitizer, the stuff is nearly impossible to get.

I guess my question is, what should we do considering the guidelines which are not mandatory (so I do not see a legal liability issue here) yet still want to keep our members as safe as we reasonably can.

All help appreciated.

Bill
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2809


05/11/2020 5:29 PM  
Your pool and facilities are not “public.”

It’s up to you to decide.
MarkW18


Posts:1195


05/11/2020 5:29 PM  
I don't see a problem. None of the other states are following CDC Guidelines. This whole thing was screwed up from day one.
MarkW18


Posts:1195


05/11/2020 5:30 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/11/2020 5:29 PM
Your pool and facilities are not “public.”

It’s up to you to decide.



Are you saying then that since they are not "public" they didn't need to close?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9411


05/11/2020 5:50 PM  
They still needed to close because protecting the community.

Former HOA President
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:326


05/11/2020 6:41 PM  
The pools at the community I manage will probably open in June. The county health department, which issues our annual operating permits, is requiring that we submit a plan for their approval to limit capacity to 25%, keep parties 6 feet apart, and routinely sanitize frequently touched services. We haven't finalized our plan yet but so far we are looking at:

Control capacity by requiring owners to reserve blocks of time at the pool. Reservation software will only allow x number of bookings per slot. Owners must state the number of people in their party.

A pool attendant will be employed to ensure people don't come in without a reservation and will clean surfaces and bathrooms between swim sessions

Some pool furniture will be removed, the remaining placed in clusters 6 feet apart and secured so that it cannot be moved to enforce social distancing

In addition to the cleaning between swim sessions, the entire facility will be cleaned 3 times per week and bathrooms will get hospital grade deep cleaning weekly

Unfortunately, this plan is expensive and obviously not contemplated in the budget. Other improvement projects have been scrapped for the year, and any maintenance that is not crucial has been deferred to help offset some of the cost.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7327


05/11/2020 6:45 PM  
CDC define HOA pools as "public" in this COVID-19 context.

We, Bill, are a 200+ urban high rise HOA and are talking about how we'll deal with repairing our pool, jacuzzi & gym. I just happened to look at those CDC guidelines today. I don't know what our local Health Dept. might issue when the time comes. some of the CDC suggestions aren't practical especially about complete sanitizing of a lot of such-areas &, say poolside furniture, frequently. We do have usodians but they can't' spend all their time in our gym, pool area & locker/restrooms.

Our pool doesn't get a whole lot of use. We have a few regular lap swimmers and then there are social g groups, though not many, on weekends.

For the pool area, our thinking at the moment is we won't permit guests, only residents; only two in the spa at a time, who must wear face coverings. So to not worry about constantly cleaning of pool furniture,, we may remove all or most of it, or tape it so not available. The pool, in other words, would be used for exercise; sun bathing, hanging out in groups, etc would be discouraged. This is how our local beaches are at present.

Everyone agrees the chlorine makes the pool water safe--it's all the other tech surfaces that need care. Are you saying Bill, that in your hOA you have no safe that keeps the pool & restrooms clean at all??
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7327


05/11/2020 6:55 PM  
Sorry, meant to type "reopening not "repairing."
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3305


05/12/2020 9:15 AM  
To start, the member who said do nothing is a dingdong. The board is responsible for ensuring the common areas and amenities are managed properly, and that means adopting policies to help reduce the association's liability.

How would this member react if people began using the pool and didn't follow social distancing, and a bunch of residents wind up testing positive? You know at least half of them would turn around and sue the association for not doing anything to reduce the risk of infection. It's bad enough people let their toddlers hop in the pool without swim diapers or take a quick shower before and after using the pool. Good Lord, the longer this pandemic goes on, the stupider some people get!

End of rant - Now here's one person's suggestions.

Assuming the pool hasn't opened yet, it may be helpful to conduct a homeowner pool to see if people are even planning to use the community pool. Since we don't know how long COVID 19 will continue, perhaps this may be the year the pool doesn't open at all. If a significant number say they're not planning to use it, you can keep it closed this season

If you do decide to open it, you could use a combination of the state and CDC guidelines, such as reducing capacity, shortening hours of operation, hiring a few people to wipe down surfaces periodically (which may increase operating costs), require everyone to bring their own had sanitizer, and so on. I would also provide information on the state and CDC guidelines so people know the board's decision is based on public health information.

As the season goes on, you can monitor how well the policies are work and tweak as necessary. You might also want to contact the local parks department to see what they're doing with public polls as well some of their po!icies.

MarkW18


Posts:1195


05/12/2020 9:51 AM  
Until the CDC puts out Requirements, these Guideline don't mean squat. It's each person for themselves, or the Wild, Wild West.
NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:306


05/12/2020 8:47 PM  
Government directives or recommendations to sanitize chairs, tables, etc. after every use will be financially catastrophic to small HOA's who have no on-site manager, lifeguard, staff, etc..
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3867


05/12/2020 8:59 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 05/12/2020 9:51 AM
Until the CDC puts out Requirements, these Guideline don't mean squat. It's each person for themselves, or the Wild, Wild West.

Or perhaps the Wild, Wild Florida. There were never any directives published at the state level by the Governor nor the state Department of Health. Our pool has been open without interruption since January 1 so far this year. Nothing posted, no hand sanitizer provided, restrooms cleaned only sporadically. In other words, business as usual.

The HOA hasn't violated anything that was mandatory or that it was obligated to do. I contend they failed in their "moral obligations", but that and $5 will get you a cuppa at Starbucks. There's nothing actionable that I could find.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7327


05/13/2020 7:57 AM  
The below is from davis-stirling.com newsletter of today. The firm is an CA HOA legal firm. Some of these tips might be helpful.
" Senior communities will be most vulnerable, so they will want to take special precautions such as installing sanitizer dispensers at key points around the clubhouse, handing out masks to anyone who does not have one, spacing out furniture to ensure social distancing, removing chairs and small tables where people might want to play cards or assemble puzzles, regularly wiping down surfaces, propping open doors so people don't have to touch handles (don't prop open fire doors), putting signs on elevator and restroom doors limiting the number of people in each, budgeting more money for thorough cleaning each night (instead of just picking up trash), installing higher grade air filters, not supplying coffee or other drinks that require people to touch the same surfaces. Some might want to take the temperature of people entering their clubhouse. There may be other measures appropriate to particular clubhouses that boards will want to implement."
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/13/2020 10:43 AM  
This is an interesting discussion. We have the same problem.
Just got word about the "guidelines"

First I put a call into out HOA liability carrier asking IF... we open the pool, do our best to follow the guidelines but someone gets covid19 and sues the hoa for not following the guidelines properly. WILL THE LIABILITY INSURANCE IN PLACE COVER US IF THE LAWSUIT IS COVID19 RELATED?

I am waiting for an answer.

It is possible that there is an exclusion in the insurance wording that excludes a "pandemic" related coverage. Clarity from the insurance carrier is the first thing to look at. If the carrier tells you that the HOA would NOT be covered, then you should not open the pool.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3867


05/13/2020 2:58 PM  
I think without careful "contact tracing" it would be impossible for anyone to claim "I was infected at that pool because there's no chance I could have been infected anywhere else".

I also think there will be a boatload of litigation in the near future once the immediate crisis is past. I've seen suggestions that some in Washington, DC, want to hold harmless businesses from lawsuits that claim they're to blame for certain exposures to the virus, whether due to negligence or not. I wouldn't be surprised to see that lawsuit immunity come to pass and be applied retroactively. Time will tell.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:733


05/13/2020 5:52 PM  
Posted By BillB17 on 05/11/2020 5:27 PM
Clicked submit too soon - sorry.

Further, our pool and clubhouse are not monitored so maintaining the 20% capacity would be difficult. Who would be responsible for the sanitation of bathrooms, doors, gates, tables, chairs, etc? If we should provide hand sanitizer, the stuff is nearly impossible to get.

I guess my question is, what should we do considering the guidelines which are not mandatory (so I do not see a legal liability issue here) yet still want to keep our members as safe as we reasonably can.

All help appreciated.

Bill



We are in a similar situation and there is no way we could pay someone to sanitize the area regularly or have someone monitor the number of visitors.

I disagree that there is no liability because they are only guidelines. I think someone could win a lawsuit if they became infected, arguing that you were negligent in opening the pool and did not follow the guidelines, when you had the option to keep it closed. I'm not saying you would be negligent, just that it's possible a court would rule that way.

If we decide to open our pool at the next board meeting I will strongly recommend a sign advising users that the pool will not be monitored or sanitized. At least then, they know and will use the pool at their own risk.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9411


05/13/2020 6:52 PM  
They are in the process of preventing lawsuits from occurring in these types of situations. Too many possibilities would just overwhelm the legal system.

They say the sunlight and heat kills the virus. A pool and it's furniture is subject to both. Natural UV light. Plus you don't get the virus from "eating/swallowing" it. You get it from breathing in the particles or touching your face after touching a surface droplets have fallen on. It should have a shorter life out in the sunlight. It's when people are talking to each other closely is more risky.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7327


05/13/2020 7:06 PM  
Many of our touch surfaces in the pool area are not in a lot or sun or all day. They also, of course, aren't in the sun at night, when some folks use our jacuzzi.

I think, like Ben, we'll make sure our residents know the pool commonly-touched items--gates, handrails to pool, jacuzzi timer, will be sanitized once a day, as they basically were before we closed them. I can't see staff sanitizing ever piece of poo side furniture, though, so that's why I think we'll have a lot of it removed. A bigger issue is sanitizing the locker rooms' toilets & sinks & touch-surfaces.

I don't know this: If pools are open must there be nearby restrooms?? Might vary from state to state or municipality to municipality?
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7327


05/13/2020 7:06 PM  
Many of our touch surfaces in the pool area are not in a lot or sun or all day. They also, of course, aren't in the sun at night, when some folks use our jacuzzi.

I think, like Ben, we'll make sure our residents know the pool commonly-touched items--gates, handrails to pool, jacuzzi timer, will be sanitized once a day, as they basically were before we closed them. I can't see staff sanitizing ever piece of poo side furniture, though, so that's why I think we'll have a lot of it removed. A bigger issue is sanitizing the locker rooms' toilets & sinks & touch-surfaces.

I don't know this: If pools are open must there be nearby restrooms?? Might vary from state to state or municipality to municipality?
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/14/2020 7:56 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 05/13/2020 5:52 PM
Posted By BillB17 on 05/11/2020 5:27 PM
Clicked submit too soon - sorry.

Further, our pool and clubhouse are not monitored so maintaining the 20% capacity would be difficult. Who would be responsible for the sanitation of bathrooms, doors, gates, tables, chairs, etc? If we should provide hand sanitizer, the stuff is nearly impossible to get.

I guess my question is, what should we do considering the guidelines which are not mandatory (so I do not see a legal liability issue here) yet still want to keep our members as safe as we reasonably can.

All help appreciated.

Bill



We are in a similar situation and there is no way we could pay someone to sanitize the area regularly or have someone monitor the number of visitors.

I disagree that there is no liability because they are only guidelines. I think someone could win a lawsuit if they became infected, arguing that you were negligent in opening the pool and did not follow the guidelines, when you had the option to keep it closed. I'm not saying you would be negligent, just that it's possible a court would rule that way.

If we decide to open our pool at the next board meeting I will strongly recommend a sign advising users that the pool will not be monitored or sanitized. At least then, they know and will use the pool at their own risk.





I decided to talk to our liability carrier. He advised to follow the cdc guidelines and if we are unable to follow the guidelines then don’t open.
BillB17
(South Carolina)

Posts:60


05/14/2020 8:17 AM  
Thanks to everyone for your input and responses. They have been very helpful.

In the end we have decided to keep our pool, clubhouse and playground closed. Our attorney advised that even if you put a sign at the entry points that says "ENTRY IS AT YOUR OWN RISK OF CORONAVIRUS EXPOSURE" we would still have liability issues in any litigation brought against us. While proof of where the virus was contracted would be difficult, the cost of defending ourselves could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The Association would have to pay those expenses out of its own revenues or special assessment since liability insurances generally exclude pandemics.
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/14/2020 8:22 AM  
Posted By BillB17 on 05/14/2020 8:17 AM
Thanks to everyone for your input and responses. They have been very helpful.

In the end we have decided to keep our pool, clubhouse and playground closed. Our attorney advised that even if you put a sign at the entry points that says "ENTRY IS AT YOUR OWN RISK OF CORONAVIRUS EXPOSURE" we would still have liability issues in any litigation brought against us. While proof of where the virus was contracted would be difficult, the cost of defending ourselves could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The Association would have to pay those expenses out of its own revenues or special assessment since liability insurances generally exclude pandemics.






Dhec in SC has determined we can’t open. We do not have a lifeguard or monitor. So there is no way to comply with cdc guidelines.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1513


05/14/2020 8:29 AM  
If you open, your board of directors should direct the necessary funding for all sanitation supplies as well as the "employees" needed to enforce social distancing and to provide per-use sanitation of chairs, restrooms. Without clearly defined legal liability protections (like is offered, traditionally, through the posted pool safety signs), this is a tough spot and your decision as a board. Pool users will not adhere to the guidelines in the aggregate sense.

I don't see true liability protection in my state but the community, thankfully and at present, doesn't think opening is wise just yet.

Generally, if your pool doesn't traditionally have pool attendants or management as part of normal management, think three times before opening.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:98


05/14/2020 8:51 AM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 05/14/2020 8:29 AM
If you open, your board of directors should direct the necessary funding for all sanitation supplies as well as the "employees" needed to enforce social distancing and to provide per-use sanitation of chairs, restrooms. Without clearly defined legal liability protections (like is offered, traditionally, through the posted pool safety signs), this is a tough spot and your decision as a board. Pool users will not adhere to the guidelines in the aggregate sense.

I don't see true liability protection in my state but the community, thankfully and at present, doesn't think opening is wise just yet.

Generally, if your pool doesn't traditionally have pool attendants or management as part of normal management, think three times before opening.




We do have not attendants. And to be honest having the pool open every summer is a real headache for the one Board member who lives here. We are relying on the advise of our pool management company without having to incur additional costs, or open ourselves up to any liability.

Our pool usually opens Memorial Day weekend. As of now, we are thinking sometime in June depending how things pan out. Maybe July.

Some members may make a big stink, but no one will be willing to do anything about it except blow off steam.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1513


05/14/2020 9:01 AM  
Pat,

The discussion about pool reopenings will likely begin on May 22, 2020, when "Phase 2" of the NC Governor's Executive Order is scheduled to begin implementation.

An attendant-free pool that opens and must rely on user self-management is not a reasonable operational burden. Most HOAs don't have unbudgeted funds to simply hire and attendant as the goa since we must balance revenue w/ expenses and keep dues increases to a minimum.

Honestly, our HOA would rather be sued for not opening the pool than face a lawsuit based on accusations that our pool opening caused someone to contract COVID-19. We need defined rules and signage that protects HOAs and articulates personal responsibility.
NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:306


05/14/2020 9:17 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/11/2020 5:29 PM
Your pool and facilities are not “public.”

It’s up to you to decide.





Not necessarily. In many counties, they are considered semi public.
MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:78


05/14/2020 9:23 AM  
Hi Bill,

These guidelines should be taken seriously - the last thing you want is an outbreak in your community. There is a reasonable expectation that the association will take steps to keep community members safe and healthy. There needs to be rules in place if you're going to open the pool, and the board will have to do its best to ensure those rules are followed.

It's a very big community, so you could even consider keeping the pool closed this summer. I know that isn't something anyone wants, but it may be the smartest option.
MarkW18


Posts:1195


05/14/2020 10:49 AM  
Posted By NpB on 05/14/2020 9:17 AM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/11/2020 5:29 PM
Your pool and facilities are not “public.”

It’s up to you to decide.





Not necessarily. In many counties, they are considered semi public.


Is you pool and/or spa licensed annually by the County Health Department. If so, they're "public".
MarcC4
(South Carolina)

Posts:27


05/14/2020 11:16 AM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 05/14/2020 10:49 AM
Posted By NpB on 05/14/2020 9:17 AM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/11/2020 5:29 PM
Your pool and facilities are not “public.”

It’s up to you to decide.





Not necessarily. In many counties, they are considered semi public.


Is you pool and/or spa licensed annually by the County Health Department. If so, they're "public".





Your pool certificate/inspection/license will state what kind of pool you have.
Ours specifically states PUBLIC POOL TYPE B.
NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:306


05/14/2020 12:04 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 05/14/2020 10:49 AM
Posted By NpB on 05/14/2020 9:17 AM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/11/2020 5:29 PM
Your pool and facilities are not “public.”

It’s up to you to decide.





Not necessarily. In many counties, they are considered semi public.


Is you pool and/or spa licensed annually by the County Health Department. If so, they're "public".





Yes it is.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2809


05/14/2020 5:50 PM  
Don’t mix up pool construction and standard “code” with pool usage “access.”
MarkW18


Posts:1195


05/14/2020 6:07 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/14/2020 5:50 PM
Don’t mix up pool construction and standard “code” with pool usage “access.”



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NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:306


05/14/2020 6:51 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 05/14/2020 6:07 PM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 05/14/2020 5:50 PM
Don’t mix up pool construction and standard “code” with pool usage “access.”



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I agree. This post is confusing.
SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:265


05/18/2020 6:04 AM  
In NJ HOA pools are public.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:989


05/18/2020 12:13 PM  
Looking at what is required of restaurants and whats being anticipated of gyms and public pools with the staffing, we just may forgo opening our pool this season. The cost would just be out of budget.
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