As warm summer days descend upon metro Detroit, you can forgot about taking a cool dip in the municipal pool or even at the one operated by your neighborhood association.
Under orders issued Thursday by local health departments, all licensed public and private swimming pools in metro Detroit are to remain closed until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health departments in Detroit and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties each issued a public health order requiring all swimming pools licensed by each jurisdiction to remain closed indefinitely.
Licensed pools include those in apartments, condominiums, hotels, private clubs and neighborhood associations.
Bill Mullan, spokesman for the Oakland County Executive’s office, said the order covers pretty much everything but backyard pools. In Oakland County, alone, it covers 940 indoor and outdoor pools, he said.
Other recreational pools include dive pools, wave pools and water slide pools, according to a news release issued Thursday afternoon on behalf of all four government entities. Therapy pools used strictly for treatment in health care settings are excluded from the closure.
The news comes just days after the region experienced a heat wave and just weeks before the official start of summer.
“With temperatures rising, swimming pools have potential to attract large groups. As regional leaders, we are committed to doing the right thing, and closing pools is the right thing to do to protect the health and safety of residents and prevent the spread of the virus,” according to the release announcing the closures.
The orders are issued under the Michigan Public Health Code to safeguard residents from potential transmission of the virus. Pool operators will be required to continue scheduled maintenance in accordance with the Michigan Administrative Rule, according to the release.
Erin Greaves of Farmington says the closing order will be hard on families like hers, with two daughters who swim competitively for the Farmington Glen Aquatic Club.
“They swim. This is what they do,” Greaves said. “This is a real blow to a large group of families, especially if their kids train. … It’s hard for these kids.”
She said her middle daughter, who will turn 17 soon, is going to Purdue University to swim on a scholarship after she graduates high school in 2021. Greaves’ youngest daughter, 11, also is a swimmer.
Greaves said her middle daughter is doing land training, cycling and even wearing a wet suit to swim in lakes, but it’s not the same as swimming in a pool several hours a day.
She said swim clubs could have appointments for families, coaches could work with small groups and lanes could be closed to adhere to social distancing. She said people might look outside metro Detroit to find locations to swim and train.
Greaves said she is in agreement with many of the closures and procedures that have to be in place, but it’s difficult for swimmers to train without pools.
Swimming pools and splash pads were closed over Memorial Day weekend, and some were already closed for the season, but beaches remain open. Officials with the state parks and Huron-Clinton Metroparks said social distancing at the sandy locations is “very important” to prevent the spread of the virus.
More: Pools, splash pads closed Memorial Day weekend, but beaches open
Many cities in metro Detroit, such as Huntington Woods, Oak Park and Southfield, had already decided their pools will be closed for the summer. Oakland County Parks and Recreation previously said Red Oaks Waterpark in Madison Heights and Waterford Oaks Waterpark in Waterford will not open this season.
For some cities, the decision wasn’t as cut-and-dried last week.
Mary Jane D’Herde, communications director for the city of St. Clair Shores, said last week that the “decision of ‘when’ or ‘if’ we open the pool is still under discussion.”
The pool at Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms was not filled late last week.
Grosse Pointe Woods’ Lake Front Park pool and aquatic facility, which is situated in St. Clair Shores, was to remain closed for the foreseeable future, according to a May 4 posting on the city’s website.
“The council did, however, leave open the possibility of revisiting the issue should public health conditions allow,” the post stated. “The Woods is not alone in making this difficult and unfortunate decision as more cities and entire counties are coming to the same conclusion. It is abundantly clear that there is no reasonable way to achieve safe social distancing at the pool or in the bathhouse.”
Huron-Clinton Metroparks splash pads, pools, Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center and slide at Stony Creek Metropark are closed, but “hopefully, we can open them at one point this summer,” Danielle Mauter, chief of marketing and communications, said last week.
The decision, she said, would depend, in part, on recommendations from local health departments and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More: Metroparks plan intermittent closures if parks become too crowded
The move to keep pools closed is also intended to help reduce the potential spike this summer in new virus cases that could prevent schools from opening in the fall, the news release on Thursday said.
“Although pool water poses a low risk of transmitting COVID-19, it is difficult to maintain social distance in and around pools, as well as in the associated facilities — enclosures, deck areas and sanitary facilities,” according to the release.
Upon reopening, pool operators must contact their respective public health authority for an opening inspection to ensure the health and safety of residents, including the required water sample analysis.
Contact Christina Hall: email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
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