Eight city pools opened on Friday to small crowds as temperatures soared into the 90s. The demand for watery respite has been huge since word got out that the pools were beginning to reopen under phasing plans addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, crowds surged at the open pools on Saturday and Sunday.
Seven more pools will reopen at the end of this week, the Parks Department said. The city is also considering issuing wrist-bands to pool attendees should the crowds surge beyond the reduced capacity to maintain social distancing. No wrist bands were issued on Saturday.
Abby Hughes, was preparing to celebrate her birthday on Sunday, but started her party by swimming with her dad Daniel at the Sunset Park pool.
“The water is good in the pool – I was at a different one last year just like this one,” she happily said, feeling much cooler.
Sebastian Wong, 23-months-old, sprawled out on the concrete after taking a dip with his parents, who kept watch on him from in the water.
“It’s so nice and refreshing – it’s nice to be outside today in this warm weather,” said Sebastian’s dad Alan in the water with his wife Jennifer, next to their baby enjoying the warm concrete.
Noel Morales played with his two sons in the pool, staying in the water so as not to have to wear their masks.
“It’s so hot, the summer is so hot,” said Samuel Morales as he played with his brother Manuel. “We were here last summer and couldn’t wait for it to open. The water is cold, you can just play around and you do a lot of stuff, just like the beach with no sand.”
All staff, with the exception of lifeguards, will also be required to wear face coverings at all times and will be required to clean “high-touch areas” like pool ladders, drinking fountains, shower controls, door handles, sinks, toilets, and urinals multiple times a day. Pool deck furniture like picnic tables, chairs, and lounges will be cleaned twice a day.
Staff will also frequently walk through waiting areas and locker rooms to make sure that no congregating takes place. The number of benches in locker rooms has also been reduced to ensure that visitors sit at least six feet apart.
New signs reminding patrons to keep social distancing have also been added outside of the reopening public pools. The pavement outside of pools has also been set up with markings spaced six-feet apart to help space out those in line.