Public pools are the latest casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, as the County Parks Department announced that its pools would not open at all this summer.
“County of San Luis Obispo Parks & Recreation,” reads a news release, “has decided to keep pools closed this summer due to COVID-19 restrictions and the unknown timeline for when public pools may be able to operate safely across the State of California.”
County Parks Director Nick Franco said, “This is not a decision we take lightly. We realize the significant impact this has on a number of families throughout our county.”
County Parks has pools in Cayucos and Cambria on the North Coast, as well as pools in North County communities San Miguel, Shandon, Templeton, and Santa Margarita Lake, and the Coastal Dunes RV Park in Oceano.
The pools are normally open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and are hubs of summer activity — especially during hot summer days — in places like San Miguel and Shandon, but this isn’t a normal summer.
“Public pools are not permitted to open under the current Stage 2 guidelines,” according to the County. “Gradual reopening is expected for pools that can limit the number of people to maintain physical distancing and safely occupy the space in and around the pool.”
The County said it can’t do this. “This may work well for pools designed for lap swimming or other larger pools. However, the County Parks’ pools are relatively small and are more about community pool recreation rather than lap swimming or other uses that make physical distancing easier.”
They haven’t hired lifeguards either. “Additionally, County Parks would need to hire and train lifeguards as they do every year, but with the unknown date of when pools may be able to open, recruiting, hiring, and training has been on hold until a potential opening date was known. That date is still not known.”
“We had to consider our need to move forward with some degree of certainty this summer,” Franco said. “And we are making this decision now so staff can concentrate on the other COVID-19 response duties associated with camping, beach use, picnic areas and other operational restrictions that are in place and take considerable staff time. We certainly expect to be able to return to our normal pool operations next summer.”