The temperature is rising, children have been home from school for over a month now and Floridians are starting to become stir crazy. Many of our clients closed their community pools due to the mandatory state-wide stay-at-home order issued for the month of April but now that the stay-at-home order has been lifted, are facing the decision of whether to reopen.
Many of the Associations that our office represents are in Orange County, Florida. On May 1, Mayor Demings of Orange County signed Emergency Executive Order No 2020-12 Regarding COVID-19 which does not specifically address community pools. However, the emergency order recommends that all persons in Orange County should avoid congregating in large groups and should maintain a distance of at least six (6) feet in between persons. Groups of people greater than ten (10) are not permitted to congregate in any public space that does not readily have the space for the appropriate social distancing. While Association pools are private property, it is in the best interest of the Association to only open if the pool area is large enough for people to continue to social distance and can ensure compliance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) cleaning protocols.
While Orange County has not enacted guidelines on community pools, some South Florida local governments have enacted stricter guidelines. For instance, Palm Beach County specifically only allows community pools to reopen if one or more staff or management is present at the pool to monitor and ensure compliance with CDC guidelines. While this County’s order may be inapplicable to your Association, it is guidance on what is the most risk averse way to approach the situation without having to keep the pool closed
If your Association does not have the resources to clean the pool area, it may be in the best interest to keep the pool closed for now...
Associations must also evaluate whether they are equipped to follow CDC cleaning protocols. If your Association does not have the resources to clean the pool area, it may be in the best interest to keep the pool closed for now as opening the pool could open the Association open to potential liability if the opening of the pool causes an outbreak of COVID-19. If your Association is set on opening the pool and you are located in a county that does not restrict pool use we have recommended that the Association post a sign in the pool area that warns members of the risk of using the pool and a reminder to maintain a safe social distance of at least 6 feet.
Please reach out to your Association’s legal counsel to look at the specific language of your County’s guidelines and the circumstances around your specific community to make the best recommendation.