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Infection Control Recommendations for Recreational Water Facilities when Reopening

The following infection control document is under further development as they were created to fit Stage 3 conditions and may not apply to all provincial lockdown requirements.

All businesses are to adhere to the Reopening Ontario Act and its regulations at all times. Where recommendations below contravene legislation or regulatory requirements, legislation or regulation prevails. The information below is not legal advice and does purport to be or to provide an interpretation of the law.


In review of the provincial guidelines, the HNHU further encourages the following general recommendations be applied by recreational water facility owners/operators to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 infection.  Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of requirements as each task requires its own assessment and plan to address infection control against communicable diseases and other hazards.  Facility operation must meet current provincial regulatory requirements (e.g. Ontario Regulation 364/20 ; waterparks are not permitted to reopen in stage 3).

For more information please review the Lifesaving Society’s document on reopening pools and waterfronts.

Notifying the local public health unit


The Ontario Regulation 565 requires owners and operators of recreational water facilities to provide written notification to the Medical Officer of Health for the following:

  • any opening of a new public recreational water facility,
  • after any construction/alteration of a recreational water facility, or
  • if an existing recreational water facility has been closed for more than four weeks.

All notifications to the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit regarding recreational water facility opening dates must be completed in writing using the Recreational Facility Notice of Operation Form. The form must be completed and returned to the Health Unit at least 14 days prior to the anticipated opening date of the recreational water facility. A public health inspector will then attempt to contact you to arrange an inspection of the recreational water facility prior to opening to the public.

Screening public and staff


  • Post signage (i.e. passive screening) at public and staff entrances to prompt anyone to not enter if they feel unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19, have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, or been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • All individuals, including children, should be screened upon arrival, prior to entry. Consider taking temperature checks of persons entering.  Deny entry to any individual who:
    • Has any of the symptoms outlined in the COVID-19 symptoms on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website.
    • Has come in close contact with a person with symptoms of COVID-19 or who has come in close contact of a confirmed case COVID-19, in the past 14 days.
    • Has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
  • Encourage those individuals to use the online Ontario Government self-assessment tool prior to visiting the facility.
  • Remind staff to stay home if sick. If they become unwell while at work, they should go home immediately.
Continue to practice and ensure physical and social distancing


  • Place signage and markers to notify patrons of physical distancing requirements. Ensure physical distancing of at least 2 metres between all individuals not in the same household or social circle.
  • Occupancy and attendance limits must meet provincial requirements (i.e. Ontario Regulation 364/20). When reopening, it is best to start with conservative/cautious occupancy limits and increase limits based on findings while ensuring patrons can physically distance.

Consider the following for splash pads:

  • Limit the number of people using the splash pads at once.
  • Splash pads that are known to be busy should be supervised to ensure physical distancing is being practiced.
  • Install a temporary perimeter to control access
  • Consider setting a time limit on facility use for each patron.

Consider the following for public pools and wading pools

  • Limit the number of people using the pool at once.
  • Pools that are known to be busy should be supervised to ensure physical distancing is being practiced.
  • The number of people using the pool should be less than the maximum number of bathers that are usually allowed. It is recommended that the bather load should be reduced by 75% to ensure physical distancing is practiced.
  • Limit the number of persons in the pool at any given time. If possible have a schedule or appointment system in place for pool use.
  • Consider setting a time limit on facility use for each patron
  • Establish different points of entry and exit from high-traffic areas, where feasible to do so. Where possible, attempt to establish one-way flow of movement throughout the building.
  • The width of swim lanes should be adjusted to enable physical distancing. Consider alternating lanes, for example, having one-way swimming per lane (e.g., swimmers use middle of the lane only and return by the adjacent lane).
  • Consider options to reduce congregating of swimmers, patrons and staff.
  • Encourage individuals to avoid facing each other even if 2 metres apart.
  • Discourage handshakes, hugs and other methods of physical contact between persons who are not from the same family.
  • Arrange seating on the pool deck or reduce the number of seating used by patrons and staff to ensure physical distancing. Mark seating to ensure physical distancing between individuals who are not members of the same household.
  • Limit the capacity in the change rooms, bathrooms, and shower areas to maintain the 2 metre physical distancing recommendations. If needed, close off every other stall, sink, lockers,
  • Mitigate the potential for classmates to gather on the pool deck before a lesson by spreading out lesson times.
Cohort groups where possible


  • Cohort staff (i.e. schedule shifts so only same group of staff work together) where possible to limit impact of potential workplace outbreak on continuity of operations.
  • Where structured activities are permitted (e.g. swim classes, clubs, teams) create cohort groups.
  • Cohort groups should remain together for the duration of the activity’s schedule
  • Cohort groups should have a maximum number of participants based on provincial restrictions. This number should include the instructors/coaches/swimmers/etc. Members of the cohort group should still minimize close contact where possible.
Provide easy access to hand washing or hand sanitizer (alcohol based hand rub)


  • Position hand washing or hand sanitizer stations in public (e.g. at entrances) and staff areas. Caution should be taken to limit access to hand sanitizer by young children without supervision.
  • Post signage to encourage proper hand washing in washrooms.
  • Have all employees and attendees wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand sanitizer before entering the facility and after contact with surfaces others have touched.
  • Ensure hand wash stations are adequately supplied at all times.
Enhance environmental cleaning and disinfection

  • Change rooms and showers can be only opened to the public provided operators can adequately sanitize and disinfect these facilities.
  • Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection as well as daily ‘complete’ cleaning.
  • Ensure you obtain the appropriate disinfectants and cleaners are used that would remove and kill the COVID-19 virus. Chlorine based solutions have been effective in killing or reducing the virus. Disinfectants used in public settings should have a DIN and virucidal claim.
  • Clean and disinfect at least twice daily and when visibly soiled all surface areas of the facility. This includes, the deck, change rooms, washrooms, showers, common areas and maintenance rooms.
  • Clean and disinfect at least twice a day or between each scheduled activity (e.g. laps, public swims) and when visibly soiled all high touch surfaces such as pool ladders, railings, doorknobs, water fountain/cooler knobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, spa dials, park meters, shower handles. Any shared items should be cleaned and disinfected between use.
  • Surfaces should be immediately cleaned following spills or where someone displays respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sneeze) in the area.  Discard items that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected (e.g. food items) after becoming contaminated.
  • Ensure staff are trained in proper use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. contact times, if PPE needs to be worn)
  • Change tables should be cleaned and disinfected after every use. Signage should be posted providing instructions for attendees as to how to do so where cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. wipes) are provided to patrons.  Otherwise instructions should include customers notifying staff immediately after use.
  • See factsheet for cleaning and disinfection for public settings
Shared Items


  • If wrist-bands are required, the operator should use self-applied bracelets and provide waste containers at the facility exit point for their disposal.
  • Equipment that is rented or provided (e.g., flutter boards, lifejackets, clip boards, towels) to users of the facility must be disinfected between use. Consider limiting the use of shared equipment wherever possible (e.g., removal of pool toys, flutter boards).
  • Rescue equipment (tubes, cans, poles, ring buoys) should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Patrons should not share uncleaned towels, goggles, or any other equipment other than with family members.
  • Encourage the use of personal goggles.
  • Use touchless payment options as much as possible, if available. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as pens, counters, or hard surfaces between use
Public Education


  • Provide information about screening prior to entering
  • Ensure that COVID-19 related factsheets are available to provide information on how to prevent COVID-19. Please contact health unit for resources or visit the health unit website at
  • Post signage at the entrance, washrooms, deck and staffrooms to remind public and staff to:
    • stay home if there are feeling unwell’
    • report illness to local public health if they become unwell
    • practice physical distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet)
    • Practice hand hygiene. This means frequent hand washing or using alcohol based hand sanitizer
    • Practice cough and sneeze etiquette
Provide personal protective equipment and physical barriers where applicable


  • Masks should not be worn in the water by swimmers, as they present a safety risk.
  • Masks must be worn by patrons on the deck or other areas of an enclosed facility (except when in the water.)
  • Where persons cannot maintain physical distancing, install barriers (e.g. plexiglass in reception or front desk) or provide appropriate PPE (e.g. masks for staff who may need to be within 2 metres of customers or other staff members).
  • Appropriate PPE should be determined based on the task being completed
  • Ensure staff are trained as to how to don (i.e. put on) and doff (i.e. take off) PPE
Provide alternative service delivery where possible

  • For First Aid or resuscitation, please refer to specific guidance from Lifesaving Society and Red Cross.
  • Consider having at least one staff person on deck be designated as a “COVID-19 responsible person”. The primary function of this role would be to watch for adherence to physical distancing and all other public health guidance.
    • Consider that ‘COVID-19 responsible person’ should not be an on-duty lifeguard. Staff performing COVID-19 supervision should not be engaged in other duties.
  • Protect vulnerable individuals, especially those over 70, those who are immuno-compromised, etc. To support this, recreational water facility owners and operators can:
    • Consider scheduling activities that can only be attended by seniors and/or immunocompromised individuals
  • Prioritize activities according to risk (i.e. low risk first) and group levels where physical distancing measures can be easily implemented (younger participants usually need more physical manipulation and proximity).
  • When scheduling activities, allow adequate time to disinfect any shared equipment and high touch surfaces between each activity.
  • Avoid cash transactions. Debit or credit using ‘tap’ option is preferred.
  • Offer virtual classes or training wherever possible.
  • Consider extending business hours or scheduled activities if it reduces surges in patrons attending.
Get your water system ready after a prolonged facility shutdown

  • For those on a municipal or communal water supply, flush your water lines by opening all faucets for 10-15 minutes and the water runs clear.
  • For those on a private water supply, ensure equipment is operating properly (e.g. filters, treatment units), flush and consider shock chlorinating system. Only commence use of water system once satisfactory drinking water samples are obtained
Increase ventilation


  • Where possible, indoor facilities should increase the ventilation system’s air intake or open doors and windows. Avoid central recirculation where possible.
  • Change HVAC system filters regularly.
Prevent a COVID-19 Outbreak


  • Keep a record of all individuals using or enter the facility (including names, contact information, dates and times), which may help support case and contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.
  • Operators should develop a plan to provide isolation for an attendee if needed (e.g. dedicated room for isolation while awaiting medical assistance).
Keep staff up-to-date on the evolving situation and applicable health and safety issues


  • Ensure staff know how to report an illness in a timely manner and take action to protect themselves and others when at work
  • Review signs, symptoms and methods of transmission of COVID-19
  • Ensure staff know when and how to self-isolate should it be required
  • Consider having a point person for each shift that can address COVID-19 concerns

As with all workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be applied.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility under the act and thus all staff should assess and plan to address their tasks with infection control in mind.  Application of R.A.C.E. is recommended:

Rrecognize the hazard

Aassess the risk associated with the hazard

Ccontrol the risk associated with the hazard (e.g. Hierarchy of Controls)

Eevaluate the controls

Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers.  Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.

Some content adapted from South Western Public Health and Windsor Essex Public Health