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COVID-19 | Pools and gyms, what about them?

June 25th, 2020

1. Pools

On June 17, 2020, the Association des responsables aquatiques du Québec (ARAQ) published a very useful Guide to Phase-Out of Aquatic Facilities in the Context of COVID-19, which can be consulted at the following Internet address:

The "common core" section of this guide brings together, as its title indicates, all the information available from official government sources such as, mainly, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. As this guide is in digital format, it also contains links that allow you to go directly to the relevant official sources with a click. Administrators or managers of condominiums should remind users that the health instructions issued by the government to prevent the spread of the virus continue to apply and must be respected. In such context, the main one will of course be to maintain a social distance of at least two meters between individuals.

These instructions can be consulted through this link:

The ARAQ guide also groups under the heading "common core" the deconfinement rules applicable to all aquatic facilities by first describing the requirements formulated in the official literature and by establishing what steps must be taken by the pool manager in order to implement them.

For example, the ARAQ guide indicates the measures to be taken with respect to, among other things, maximum bather capacity, maximum capacity per locker room, separate entry and exit points, washrooms, whirlpools (to which access should be prohibited), display, etc. The ARAQ's guide is also intended to provide information on the decontamination rules applicable to all aquatic facilities by first describing the requirements set out in the official literature and setting out the steps to be taken by the pool manager to implement them.

As for the deconfinement rules specific to recreational bathing places, the guide should be quoted directly (emphasis added):

According to the maximum capacity (CBM), the persons admitted to the edge of the pool are free.

They can:
• Activate themselves on the spot
• Jumping, diving into the water
• Use the springboards, Tarzan rope
• Swimming short distances

They can't:
• Share equipment, like balloons, tubes, etc.
• Get within 2 metres of another swimmer.
• Play tag

The challenge: People from the same family can touch each other and come within 2 meters of each other.
The team of rescuers on duty should think about how they are going to sensitize the clientele to the importance of physical distancing and how to practice it.

Even if it does not seem mandatory for lifeguards to be on duty in the context of a divided co-ownership pool, the fact remains that the recommendation formulated above can easily be transposed to managers or administrators of co-ownerships with a pool. We are of the opinion that, at the very least, it would be necessary to "sensitize the clientele to the importance of physical distancing and the means of practicing it" as indicated above.

As it could prove to be very complex or delicate to force users to continue to apply the sanitary instructions imposed by the government, even if condominium pools do not seem to constitute "public baths" in the strict sense of the law, it will be up to each condominium to determine which measures could be implemented according to the particular context of each one. The primary goal must be, in all circumstances, to put in place conditions of use such that no spread of the COVID-19 virus can result. The ARAQ guide may prove to be a very useful reference tool for this purpose.

Given the complexity of the task, some condominiums might even refrain from opening their pools for the summer, which of course could be a major source of friction with co-owners, especially during a heat wave.

2. The gyms

During a press conference held on June 17, it was announced by the Minister of Education, Isabelle Charest, who is responsible for sports and recreation in the Legault cabinet, that a new phase of deconfinement would make it possible to reopen the training centres as of June 22, 2020.

As Minister Charest said: "We have all missed sport in recent months, but with this new phase, Quebecers will be able to return to their hockey camp, gym and fitness centre. It's a return to normal that will have to be done cautiously, and we will have to make adjustments in the practice of our favourite sports activities. However, I am convinced that we will adapt quickly, to the delight of all of us. »

Again, the same health rules continue to apply and must be respected.

At the time of writing, however, the official government decree allowing the opening of indoor sports facilities had not yet been published.

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