The circumstances surrounding the novel coronavirus are constantly fluctuating, and they will likely continue to do so for the remainder of the year as we learn more about the virus. However, states are now beginning to permit the reopening of some businesses and amenities in the next phase of their coronavirus response plans. While shutting everything down was an easy choice that minimized risk, reopening community amenities requires much more planning and consideration. If your HOA is looking to reopen its community pool, here are a few guidelines to take into consideration when deciding how to best approach the process.
Remember that each community is different
Each state, each city, and each community association are going to have entirely unique circumstances that dictate how and when they should reopen their pool amenities. Don’t reopen just because another community did, and don’t blindly follow another HOA’s guidelines. Your community may be made up of an entirely different demographic that necessitates implementing a different reopening plan than your neighboring associations. You may want to hold a community meeting or otherwise consult with the residents of your HOA to gauge their thoughts on how and when you should reopen, since reopening your community pool is ultimately done to serve them and their best interest.
Take the path of least risk
When it comes to safely reopening your pool during a pandemic, you always want to choose the strategy that is the safest for your residents. If a community member contracts COVID-19, this could likely lead to another complete shutdown of shared amenities, which will be a time-consuming and costly effort. Your first priority should always be protecting the health and safety of your community, so only reopen your pool amenities if you are completely confident that it’s safe to do so. Follow all guidelines set forth by the CDC as well as your state, county, and city governments.
Stay up-to-date on developments
Reopening while the pandemic is ongoing means that there will inevitably be changes in local and federal guidelines as time goes on. Make sure that your HOA board members are closely following all directives from the CDC and local governments, so if anything changes, your HOA can implement those changes immediately and remain as safe as possible. It’s always wise to cite the sources of these directives, as well, when explaining them to HOA members. Remaining flexible is key, so be ready to alter your safety protocols and reopening guidelines at a moment’s notice if official recommendations for safety procedures change.
Implement rules for safety
It’s never recommended that you fully reopen your amenities with no additional safety precautions in place. Especially in higher-risk environments such as a swimming pool, it’s imperative that you outline basic guidelines for minimizing risk of transmission, such as requiring swimmers to social distance while in the pool. While enforcement of these rules may be difficult, your board should still create a plan for enforcement and post clear signage stating the new rules. This can help protect you as an HOA board if someone becomes ill, and it can also help protect your community members from contracting COVID-19 in the first place.
Navigating the nuances of COVID-19 restrictions and reopenings can be extremely difficult given the risk of getting it wrong. While the proper time and procedure for reopening pool amenities will vary widely from community to community, all decisions should be made with the residents’ best interests at heart. Protecting the health and wellbeing of your community association should always be prioritized over financial benefits or pressure from homeowners to access amenities. If you feel that you need assistance in navigating safe amenity reopening plans, contact The Management Trust. As a leading community association management firm, we can help you implement and enforce any COVID-19 safety guidelines that you feel will best protect your community. If you’re a homeowner looking for more information regarding the current status of your pool amenities, please reach out directly to your HOA board for more information regarding your association’s plans for reopening.