The following text outlines guidance on pool openings amid the Coronavirus pandemic as issued by the New Jersey State Department of Health. Association managers and boards are encouraged to consult with their attorneys before making the decision to re-open their pools.
New Jersey public recreational bathing (PRB) pool facilities, except aquatic recreation facilities, are permitted to open to the public on or after June 22, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order No. 153 (2020). Pool facilities are defined in the Order, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 8:26-1.3, to include conventional pools, hot tubs, spas, wading pools, special purpose pools, and aquatic recreation attractions that include, but are not limited to, “pools operated by or serving campgrounds, clubs, churches, cities, common interest communities, counties, day care centers, group home facilities for six or more clients, health spas, institutions, parks, private lake, river, or bay associations, or private community lake, river, or bay associations, State, county, and municipal agencies, retirement communities, schools, specially exempt
facilities, subdivisions, or cooperative living type projects of three or more living units, such as apartments, boarding homes, condominiums, hotels, mobile home parks, motels, recreational vehicle parks, townhouses, trailer parks, and youth camps.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance on operating and managing public pools and hot tubs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Health recommends that all pool facilities review the CDC guidance to assist with making decisions prior to opening.
Pursuant to Executive Order No. 153 (2020), the Department of Health has developed these standards governing the operations of pool facilities, including the securing of staff, staff training, and other overall measures implementing the NJ COVID-19 health and safety standards. pool facility operators must
comply with these standards.
COVID-19 Pool Facilities Standards
Approval to operate according to the Public Recreational Bathing (PRB) rule, N.J.A.C. 8:26-1 et seq.
• Approval to operate by the local health authority (LHA) is required prior to opening.
• The preoperational assessment checklist (N.J.A.C. 8:26-Appendix E) should be submitted to the LHA in lieu of an LHA on-site inspection (LHA may utilize the form to alleviate the stress on LHA responding to contact tracing responsibilities).
• Incorporated into the Aquatics Facility Plan (AFP) required by the PRB rule, the pool facility must develop and implement a COVID-19 Pool Operation Prevention Plan (CPOPP) that complies with this Guidance pursuant to Executive Order No. 153 (2020).
• Together the AFP and CPOPP must be submitted to the LHA.
Implementation of the CPOPP
All pool facilities must comply with existing sanitation and safety regulatory requirements for recreational bathing facilities to preserve public health set forth in the New Jersey State Sanitary Code regulations, N.J.A.C. 8:26, adopted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:1A-7 and N.J.S.A. 26:4A-7 and shall develop and implement
a CPOPP that complies with Executive Order No. 153 (2020), and all applicable guidance contained herein.
The CPOPP must establish and identify the following policies:
I. Staffing and Pool Facility Operations
Pool facilities shall hire adequate staff and development and implement protocols for staff training and pool operations, including but not limited to, at a minimum:
A. Train and equip the following personnel on COVID-19 awareness, cleaning and
sanitizing to perform their assigned duties in a manner that promotes the safety of
public and staff. Pool Directors and Lifeguards shall be trained and certified in accordance with applicable rules and certification requirements.
1. Pool Director
▪ Due to the COVID crisis, some certification agencies have developed and
offered 100% online coursework. Pool operators are encouraged to use
these online resources. Links to these resources are available on the
Department’s website at: https://www.nj.gov/health/ceohs/sanitationsafety/
▪ Some training certification agencies have provided certificate extension of
up to 120 days. Guards should provide the expired certification AND the
extension certificate as acceptable documentation.
3. Implementation of an ambassador role to monitor and encourage social
distancing of bathers on the pool deck
4. COVID contact person
B. Establish a protocol for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) acquisition and
C. Document COVID awareness training and risk reduction strategies for all personnel
D. Special Exempt Facilities under N.J.A.C. 8:26-1 are required to staff all above noted personnel EXCEPT the lifeguard
E. Develop a police notification policy
▪ Develop reporting procedures in the event of non-compliance with any activities
required by Executive Order No. 153 (2020).
F. Implement a policy for screening staff entering the facility that includes, but is not
▪ Temperature readings of staff entering the facility
Persons that have a fever of 100.4° or above or other signs of COVID-19 illness
should not be admitted to the facilities. Pool facilities should encourage staff to be
on the alert for signs of illness and to stay home when they are sick. In order to
effectuate this policy, pool facilities should institute the following protocol:
▪ Screening for fever or signs of COVID-19 illness at designated entry points prior
to being permitted to enter the facility.
Symptoms related to COVID-19 include:
• Fever or chills
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Muscle or body aches
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
II. Admittance and Access to the Facility
A. Designate, limit, and stagger access to entry and exit points to bathing area to avoid congregation.
B. At designated entry points, pool facilities must post signage that patrons should be on the alert for signs of illness and to stay home when they have symptoms of
COVID-19 or are otherwise sick.
C. Must offer cash-less options at the facility where possible to limit physical
D. Implement non-discriminatory capacity restrictions:
▪ Reduce capacity to 50% of the maximum capacity for the facility and grounds at
▪ Capacity in hot tubs must be reduced so that individuals always maintain six feet
social distancing, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household
members, or romantic partners.
▪ Measures to implement capacity restrictions may include, but not be limited to:
• Reservations (passes);
• Limiting of hours; and
• Demarcating grids on pool deck.
▪ Recommended bather load calculation:
Pool Surface area 28 sq. ft./person
E. Maintain a sign in sheet for all staff and patrons to facilitate potential contact
III. Infection Control Strategies
All pool facilities shall implement the following prevention and mitigation strategies to slow and limit
COVID-19 exposure and spread:
A. Designate COVID-19 Emergency Care Room
▪ Pool facilities that can accommodate 500 bathers or more, before capacity
reduction measures are implemented, must identify, locate, and designate an
emergency care room located outdoors with a protective covering, such as a
canopy or other covering. The public recreational bathing rule requires an
emergency care room to be utilized for the emergency care of injured/ill
▪ Document emergency care space cleaning procedures consistent with the
cleaning and disinfection procedures identified below.
▪ Medical areas should be located outdoors.
B. Management must cooperate with LHA staff in any communicable disease
investigation and follow current Communicable Disease Service guidance for illness reporting https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/.
C. Establish procedures for safely isolating and transporting anyone showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 consistent with CDC guidance.
D. Develop and implement enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures using
Environment Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and following CDC
guidance that includes frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high traffic areas (Ex:
restrooms, showers and changing rooms) and major touch points. The procedures
must include, at a minimum:
▪ Provide sanitizer stations throughout the pool facility.
• Ensure a sufficient quantity of cleaning supplies (Ex: soap, hand sanitizer,
surface disinfectant) are available.
▪ Require frequent sanitization of any areas opened to the public, including, at
minimum, the following cleaning protocols:
• Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces several
times daily and shared objects after each use, including but not limited to,
staff ticket or sales booths, lifeguard stands, life jackets, lifesaving
equipment, railings, towel decks, medical area supplies and equipment,
particularly in spaces that are accessible to staff, the public, or other
individuals in accordance with CDC guidance.
E. Prohibit the sharing of furniture and equipment provided to patrons for use by the
pool facility, including but not limited to lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, and other
equipment, except among immediate family members, caretakers, household
members, or romantic partners. Clean and disinfect after each use pursuant to the
procedures required herein.
F. Allow patrons to use their own water play equipment, including but not limited to
goggles, snorkels, fins, kickboards, pool noodles and toys, however the pool facility
▪ Prohibit the sharing of such equipment except among immediate family
members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners; and
▪ Not provide such equipment for rent or other use to patrons while at the pool
IV. Restrooms and Shower Access
All pool facilities must implement the following policies in all restroom, shower areas, and locker rooms:
A. Require foot coverings within restroom, shower area, and locker rooms;
B. The installation of foot pedals or motion sensor in shower area is recommended;
C. Limit occupancy in restrooms, shower areas, and locker rooms that remain open to avoid over-crowding and maintain social distancing through signage and, where
practicable, the utilization of attendants to monitor capacity.
▪ Recommend designating personnel to oversee the activity.
V. Face Masks, Gloves, and Social Distancing Strategies
A. Face Masks and Gloves
Staff and patrons are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering while not in the pool when social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health.
▪ Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on children under age two because of
the danger of suffocation.
▪ Face coverings should NOT be allowed in the water due to increased risk of
▪ Lifeguards should NOT wear a face covering while on duty actively lifeguarding.
It is encouraged that lifeguards wear a cloth face covering when they are not on
duty actively lifeguarding and cannot maintain social distancing of 6 feet.
Proper and frequent hand washing is required by staff. Gloves should be worn when handling or serving food to patrons.
Pool facilities should supply their staff with cloth face coverings and gloves, in addition to basic PPE’s for isolation in the health area.
B. Social Distancing
Pool facilities must implement measures to ensure social distancing is maintained, including but not limited to:
▪ Encouraging 6 feet social distancing while in the water, unless the individual
needs assistance in order to swim, except immediate family members,
caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
▪ Encouraging 6 feet social distancing on the pool deck, except immediate family
members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
▪ Separating and spacing apart all benches and tables to encourage social
▪ Controlling crowd flow using visible markings, postings or signage; and
▪ Demarcating and post signs that denote six feet of spacing in all commonly used
and other applicable areas or where people may form a line.
VI. Communication Plan
Pool facilities must develop and implement an outreach plan that includes, but is not limited to, at minimum:
A. Methods to ensure a continuous public outreach campaign, including but not
limited to highly visible signage, websites, and mobile applications, to communicate restrictions, set expectations, and emphasize the importance of social distancing and hygiene.
B. Pool facilities shall post signage indicating that:
▪ Face coverings are strongly encouraged
▪ Face coverings should NOT be worn in the water (increases the risk of drowning)
▪ Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water
▪ Hand sanitizer that is at least 60% should be used if soap and water are not
▪ Do not touch your face (especially eyes, nose or mouth) with unwashed hands
▪ Stay home if you are sick
• Practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings
VII. Food Services
Food services shall remain limited to restrictions consistent with Executive Orders issued in response to COVID-19 as required by Executive Order No. 153 (2020), and tables or other equipment which impede social distancing should be removed or restricted.
VIII. Emergency Evacuation Procedure
Pool facilities must revise the emergency evacuation procedure to ensure social distancing protocols allow for safe evacuation and all applicable guidance contained herein.