MEMPHIS, Tennessee — It's the unofficial kick off to summer, but this year, there is one thing missing: pools.
The city of Memphis has yet to announce if or when it will open the city pools. Many private or community pools also remain closed.
So what prevent pools from opening? Will they open? And if so, when?
This year, backyard pools are in demand because there are so many unknowns when it comes to public pools. The folks at Fayette pool supplies in Oakland say it's been busier than ever as people prepare their pools for the summer.
"They want to stay home," said Kelly Hampton, Fayette Pool Supplies employee. "Our service side is busy, and the store is very busy."
While people rush to get backyard pools open, this Memorial Day weekend most of the public pools in the Mid-South are closed because of COVID-19.
Friday, the Shelby County Health Department released a breakdown of questions regarding pools opening.
According to the health department:
- Pools can open but are limited to 25 percent capacity.
- People have to reserve times and are limited to 45 minutes of swimming. The other 15 minutes of the hour are designated for cleaning.
- Visitors must get out of the pool while staff cleans pool ladders, rails, and common fixtures.
- Dedicated staff must be present at all times while the pool is open to make sure the new rules and regulations are followed.
- Pools that generally don't require the presence of aquatics staff, must now have an employee there.
- If the pool operator has a lifeguard on staff, the lifeguard can't do all this and another staff member is required to monitor compliance and social distancing.
These rules don't just apply to public swimming pools. It also includes hotel/motel pools, fitness center pools, apartment or condo community pools, or pools operated by neighborhood associations.
Private membership pools, such as country clubs, are not specifically listed. The Shelby Co Health Department was unable to provide us with clarification regarding club pools.
The bottom line: pools can open but pool operators may find it difficult to comply with new rules and regulations and decide to remain closed.
There is probably very little risk in being in a pool and swimming. You are out in ultraviolet light. You’re in chlorinated water - all things viruses don't like," said , Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Stephen Threlkeld.
Threlkeld says the challenge is keeping people socially distancing in the pool: it's not the pool itself, but the activities that go along with having a bunch of people in a pool.
"Even adults congregating around the side of a pool and sitting there next to each other within two feet of each other and talking - that's probably the bigger risk," said Threlkeld.
The folks at Memphis City Hall have yet to say if or when they plan on opening city pools. Local 24 News was told they are working on it.