Plans are underway to reopen the pool at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, but it won’t be business as usual – as is the case with many activities as we cope with the coronavirus situation.
Measures to prevent the spread of the virus will be in place, with visitors asked to register online or phone in advance of heading out for a swim.
“On Monday, September 14, we’ll be having limited capacities for our swim programs and offering aquafit or lane swims and family swim,” said community programs coordinator Marie Malcolm.
Residents are now required to register online for programming to guarantee themselves a slot, with the facility accepting some walk-ins for the remaining spots, though people are encouraged to call ahead. Given the reduction in capacity required to maintain physical distancing, staff at the WMC expect there will be heavy demand for the available spots.
“People will be signing off when we register, and walk-ins will be required to sign-off on a COVID waiver, just ensuring that they’re going through the passive screening questions,” said Malcolm, noting those who are ill or have family members who are sick should stay away from the facility.
Change rooms will now only be available following a swim, meaning patrons should show up in their appropriate swimming garments. The policy recognized that social distancing can be an issue in the small rooms. Showering is still required ahead of entering the water, however.
Lockers will not be available, so the township suggests people not bring valuable items with them since they cannot guarantee their security. Bags will be placed alongside the pool in a designated area.
“We’ll have minimal equipment available for the swim programs, such as our flutter boards and pool buoys, water belts, as well as our life jackets,” Malcolm added.
After use, the equipment will be properly washed. Guests are also encouraged to bring their own equipment.
Having chlorine an active virus-killing chemical in the water should help reduce transmission risk, but transmission remains a possibility. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people through water in these places.”
As with all buildings in Waterloo Region, face masks must be worn upon entering and removed when participating in pool programming.
The pool area joins the fitness centre in reopening, though the latter hasn’t seen a big uptick in usage. To encourage greater numbers there, and to boost programming, the township is reactivating memberships and participants will no longer have to pay the drop-in fee.
“We’re hoping that will bring some more people back into the building,” said Malcolm.