The following guidance should be used by owners and operators of recreational water facilities, including public pools, spas, wading pools and splash pads, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that their recreational water facility is in compliance with all orders made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, in addition to O. Reg. 565/90 – Public Pools. As every recreational water facility is different, it is the responsibility of owners and operators to review their own policies, procedures, and site-specific operations, while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained.
The aim and purpose of this document is to assist individuals and businesses with information related to the Ontario Government’s reopening framework as well as Toronto Public Health requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is important to know that breaches of some of these directions will constitute offences under provincial regulations or other public health legal requirements. While we aim to provide relevant and timely information, no guarantee can be given as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided. This guidance is not intended to nor does it provide legal advice and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice. Users seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.
- Facilities for indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities must close unless they meet the conditions set out in Reg. 82/20, schedule 2, section 48.
- Hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences, must ensure any indoor pools, communal steam rooms, saunas or whirlpools, indoor fitness centres, or other indoor recreational facilities that are part of the operation of these businesses, are closed, per Reg. 82/20, schedule 2, Section 25.
- All apartment buildings must close non-essential common areas, including, pools and spas (whirlpool, hot tubs), to be consistent with provincial restrictions, as per Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings.
- Toronto Public Health (TPH) strongly recommends that all condominiums close non-essential common areas, including pools and spas (whirlpool, hot tubs) to be consistent with provincial restrictions.
- Pools and spas that remain open in condominiums must comply with provincial gathering restrictions. At this time, the use of indoor pools and spas must be limited to only members of a single household at one time.
- Aquatic instruction, including learn to swim and swimming classes, are currently not permitted. However, lifeguard training and certification courses are permitted as long as they meet the conditions set out in Reg. 82/20. See below for more information.
Measures for All Workplaces, Businesses & Organizations
Review TPHs Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and bathers safe. Owners and operators must also consider the following:
- Health screening for staff and customers
- Actively screen every person that works at the business or organization before they enter the premises of the business or organization. See sample Staff Screening Questionnaire.
- Post signs at all entrances to the premises in a conspicuous location visible to the public to inform individuals on how to self-screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises.
- Class A or supervised Class B pools: in addition to the above requirements, it is strongly recommended that owners and operators actively screen bathers before entering the facility.
- Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- A person shall wear appropriate PPE that provides protection of their eyes, nose and mouth if, in the course of providing services, the person:
- is required to come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering during any period when that person is in an indoor area; and
- is not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier from a person described above.
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Encourage staff and bathers to practice hand hygiene prior to, during, and after use of the recreational water facility.
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Ensure locker rooms, change rooms, showers and washrooms are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.
- Equipment that is rented to, provided to, or provided for the use of the public must be cleaned and disinfected between each use.
- Rescue equipment (e.g. throwing-aids, reaching poles) and shared equipment (e.g. lifejackets, flutter boards, clip boards) must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
- Attendance records for contact tracing
- Class A pools: Record the name and contact information (e.g. phone or email) of every member of the public with a date, check in and check out time.
- Class B pools: Use a sign-in book for residents to leave their name and unit number, with a date, check in and check out time.
- Maintain these records for a period of at least one month.
- Managing COVID-19 in the workplace
Mandatory Use of Masks or Face Coverings
- The use of masks or face coverings is mandatory in all indoor public settings, as per Reg. 82/20 and City of Toronto Bylaw 541-2020.
- Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Facility owners and operators must develop a policy on the wearing of masks, as per City of Toronto bylaw, and train staff on the policy. More information is available here.
- Masks or face coverings may be temporarily removed while engaging in an athletic or fitness activity (e.g. swimming).
- Masks must be worn on the recreational water facility deck and in other areas of the facility.
Business operators are required to prepare and make available a safety plan. Pools and spas located within other businesses (e.g. condo, sports facility) should be considered in that facility’s safety plan. This safety plan must:
- Describe measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce spread of COVID-19.
- Include measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, and the wearing of PPE.
- Be in writing and made available to any person for review on request.
- Be posted in a visible place to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.
- See COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist available in: [PDF] and [Fillable PDF] and Instructions for Completing the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist for more information.
The following are suggestions for achieving compliance with this requirement:
- Set a capacity limit for the number of staff and bathers allowed in the facility at any given time. Do the same for individual areas, such as change rooms.
- The capacity limit should be based on the layout and available space within the facility to ensure ease of movement while maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres from others.
- Post signage at the entrance stating the maximum number of bathers permitted at any one time.
- Consider implementing appointments or time limits for the use of the facility so that capacity is more easily controlled.
- Monitor to ensure adherence to the capacity limit.
- Remove furniture (e.g. chairs, benches, picnic tables) to accommodate the reduced facility capacity (e.g. resting and spectator areas).
Note: Facilities must ensure that the total number of bathers permitted at any one time on the deck and in the pool does not exceed the maximum bather load as determined by O. Reg. 565/90 – Public Pools.
- Staff should receive clear instructions on the mandatory mask and face covering policy, and understand who is exempt. Proof of exemption is not required.
- Educate staff on the proper use of masks/face coverings. They should change masks when moist or dirty, but in areas away from customers (e.g. lunch room, private office).
- Discourage staff from gathering together in common areas (e.g. lunch room). Staff must continue to maintain physical distancing in these areas.
- Educate staff on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Train staff on the proper use of PPE (e.g. gloves, masks, face shield), when required. Refer to Public Health Ontario
- Inform staff that physical distancing must not compromise safety supervision or the bathers’ safety (e.g. rescues, first aid).
- Lifeguards who are actively providing safety supervision should not be expected to monitor adherence to measures outlined in this document (e.g. health screening, physical distancing). These responsibilities should be assigned to another staff member.
- Train staff on safety measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission during first aid and resuscitation. For additional information, consult industry experts such as the Lifesaving Society and the Canadian Red Cross.
- Post physical distancing signs throughout the facilities, including at all entrances, change rooms, washrooms decks, etc.
- Remind staff and bathers to maintain a physical distance of two metres from people they don’t live with, as best as possible.
- Monitor capacity of the facility, change rooms and other areas as appropriate.
- If capacity is reached and physical distancing is difficult or not possible, advise facility users to return at another time.
- Use visual markers, stickers or pylons to encourage physical distancing, where appropriate (e.g. entrances, showers, pool deck, diving boards).
- Stagger the flow of people entering and exiting the facility to prevent crowding.
- Design a walking flow for the whole facility (e.g. creating one-directional walking paths with prominent signage and/or floor markings), where appropriate (e.g. showers, change rooms, pool deck).
- Encourage physical distancing in the water and on the deck (e.g. one-directional swimming lanes with prominent signage and/or deck markings, reminders to leisure bathers).
- Stagger times for lap swims, training and other activities or programs.
- Remind staff and bathers not to share items including water bottles, equipment and supplies.
- Place markers or circles so bathers know where to stand when waiting or interacting with staff.
- Install plexiglass/barriers, if possible, where there will be close contact between staff and bathers (e.g. service counters, cashiers).
- Block off amenities that are immediately next to each other, where possible (e.g., showers, lockers, sinks)
- Arrange furniture a minimum of two metres apart, and place signs/notices in fixed seating spaces (e.g., poolside benches).
- Mark furniture locations so that they may be repositioned easily (e.g. tape/paint on the floor).
- Operators must ensure that patrons lining up or congregating outside their facility:
- Maintain at least two metres physical distancing from other groups of people, and
- Wear a mask or face covering, unless entitled to an exemption.
- Use visual markers, stickers or pylons to encourage physical distancing while waiting outside.
Lifeguard Training and Certification
- The provision of health and safety training, such as lifeguard training and certification, is permitted as per Reg. 82/20 with the following conditions:
- The instructional space enables students to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the instructional space, except where necessary for effective teaching and instruction.
- The total number of students permitted to be in each instructional space at any one time must be limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, and cannot exceed 10 persons.
- Virtual classes or training are recommended, wherever possible.
- For training that requires the instructor and/or students to be less than two metres apart, considerations should include:
- Wearing masks (e.g. in shallow area of pool, on deck), if possible and safe to do so.
- Practising the activity that requires less than two metres distance for as little time as possible.
- Ensuring students and instructors keep a physical distance from each other during the class at all other times as much as possible.
- Where possible, training should operate in cohort groups, and remain the same each time the group meets.
- Allow adequate time to clean and disinfect any shared equipment after each use.
Water Filtration and Disinfection
- Adequate filtration and disinfection of water should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Ensure the facility’s water filtration and disinfection systems (i.e. with chlorine or bromine) are maintained and operating properly.
- Where required, disinfectant levels in public pools, spas, wading pools and splash pads must be maintained according to Reg. 565/90 – Public Pools.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Increase the introduction and circulation of outdoor air by maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, or by opening windows and doors, where possible. Avoid recirculating air.
- Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk.
- Ensure the HVAC system(s) are properly maintained.
- Where provided, use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system.
- Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
- Seating and activities should be arranged away from areas with high airflow (i.e. not in front of air vents).
- Rooms where indoor ceiling fans are used should have an upward airflow rotation.
- If portable fans are used, limit the blowing of air across people and surfaces by positioning them to provide an upward movement of air.
- For more information, review TPHs COVID-19: Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation fact sheet.
- Inform staff and bathers about the changes you have made to protect them against COVID-19, such as using posters, updated websites, email or social media accounts.
- Designate a contact person (e.g. supervisor) to respond to COVID-19 concerns from staff and bathers.
- Post information in highly visible areas, including at entrances, service counters, cashiers, and washrooms as a reminder for everyone to practice public health measures:
Download this information as a PDF.