Re-opening Recreational Water

Waterloo Region is in Step 2 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen. For more information please review Reopening Ontario.

Waterloo Region residents are strongly advised to continue practicing public health measures and get vaccinated to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses and organizations can submit questions directly to the Ministry of Health.

If the  recreational water facility has been closed for more than four weeks, the Ontario Pools Regulation 565 requires owners/operators to notify the Region of Waterloo Public Health about their intention to re-open their recreational water facility at least 14 days prior to opening.

Notification can be done online using our Pool or Spa Opening Notification Form. This will allow time for Public Health inspectors to review and plan inspections. The pool opening notification requires an anticipated date of opening; therefore, a notification form should not be submitted prior to any changes to the Provincial Orders that allows recreational water facilities to re-open. 

Public Health inspectors will ensure compliance with the Ontario Pools Regulation 565 and COVID-19 prevention measures. Inspection results, including COVID-19 prevention measures will be posted on Check it! We inspect it.

The following provides information on the re-opening of all indoor and outdoor swimming pools, outdoor splash pads, wading pools, waterparks, and other recreational spaces such as whirlpools/spas

To keep up-to-date with the re-opening process, please review the COVID-19 public health measures and advice and while Lifesaving Society’s Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen – Aquatic Facilities can be referenced for industry guidance, it does not supersede Provincial legislation or Public Health instruction. 

  • Aquatic activities such as fitness classes and swim lessons must meet the capacity limits and physical distancing measures of the sports and fitness facilities. Follow all guidelines and requirements set by the Province of Ontario. Proof of vaccination requirements may apply

Notification can be done online using our Pool or Spa Opening Notification Form. This will allow time for Public Health Inspectors to review and plan inspections. The pool opening notification requires an anticipated date of opening.

Owners/operators that do choose to re-open their recreational water space, when permitted to do so, should consider the recommendations and requirements described below.

General cleaning and disinfection

  • Any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar facilities made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • COVID-19 is largely transmitted through respiratory droplets that can spread up to two metres or six feet. There is currently no evidence that the virus is transmitted through water, but the risk of transmission remains present at any place of work, public space, or recreational facility.
  • Follow standard protocols for routine cleaning and disinfection. In addition to routine cleaning, frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, counters, and handrails should be cleaned and disinfected at least once daily and when visibly dirty.
  • Equipment rented or loaned must be disinfected or quarantined appropriately between uses.
  • It is recommended that water fountains be made inaccessible at this time; unless mouthpieces are cleaned and disinfected after each use, and according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • A disinfectant solution should have an 8-digit drug identification number (DIN) approved by Health Canada, deemed effective against COVID-19 and viruses.
  • Disinfectants are meant to be used only on surfaces. Never use these products on skin or internally (e.g., by swallowing or injecting these products) as this could cause serious harm.
    • Use test strips to verify appropriate concentration levels if the disinfectant is not already pre-mixed. Always read and follow manufacturers’ instructions for safe use (e.g., wear gloves and use in well-ventilated area).

For more information review Cleaning and Disinfection in Public Settings.

Staff and visitor safety

  • A face mask/covering is required within the indoor public areas, including the entrance and pool deck. A face mask/covering is not required while swimming or for children under the age of two.
  • Eye protection in addition to a face mask/covering is required when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Staff must complete the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 worker and employee screening prior to coming into work to identify any symptoms/whether they need to self-isolate at home. Direct staff to stay home if they are sick. If they become unwell while at work, they should go home immediately
  • Clearly post Face Covering By-Law signage at all entrances (as per Region of Waterloo by-law that requires face covering in enclosed spaces).
  • Post information about COVID-19 symptoms near entrances/visible areas of the aquatic recreational space to help the public and staff identify whether they have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Anyone who enters the facility is to be actively screened.
  • Both the public and staff should be reminded about staying home if feeling unwell.
  • Where possible and feasible, owner/operators should consider maintaining a log of staff such as lifeguards, and ideally, attending swimmers. At a minimum, a name, contact information, and dates and times of entry should be documented
  • Staff and visitors must practice physical distancing by staying at least two metres away from others. 
  • Staff and visitors should be advised to practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Good hand hygiene includes washing hands frequently with warm, soapy water and/or sanitizing hands frequently with sanitizer that has at least 60 per cent alcohol content. Good respiratory etiquette includes coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or disposable tissue. Consider posting the Help stop the spread of germs sign in washrooms or other common areas.
  • Consider installing hand-sanitizing stations at the entrance and throughout the facility.

Physical distancing

  • For all indoor and outdoor swimming pools, splash pads, wading pools, and other recreational water spaces such as whirlpools/spas efforts should be made to limit attendance to ensure that physical distance of at least two metres between individuals is maintained at all times. Distancing requirements may be subject to change. Follow the capacity limits as stated for indoor/outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities.
  • To facilitate physical distancing, limit the number of individuals using the space at once. For example:
    • Permitting less individuals than the maximum bather load or number of individuals that would normally be allowed in the space. Larger or busier spaces may need supervision to monitor and ensure physical distancing as much as possible
    • Reducing resting areas and pool capacity
    • Limiting and distancing pool-side seating
    • Timed entry (e.g., appointment only)

Applicable laws and regulations

Additional resources

The following is a list of other helpful resources and websites to consider for re-opening:

Complaints about compliance with COVID-19 orders should be directed to the Region of Waterloo’s Service First Call Centre – 24 hours/7 days per week at 519-575-4400. 

Public Health does not provide advice regarding your ability to operate and it remains the business’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws to operate at this time. These guidelines and resources should be reviewed and followed, and while we aim to provide relevant and timely information, no guarantee can be given as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided. Continue to monitor this site, along with the Ontario Government website to stay as current as possible. The content is provided for informational purposes only and not intended to, nor does it provide legal advice, and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice.

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