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COVID guidelines put limits on swimming pools in Billings

Posted at 8:29 AM, Jun 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 13:51:54-04

BILLINGS — Many have been enjoying time in city swimming pools under phase two COVID-19 guidelines.

The guidelines at the Rose Park and South Park pools are similar to away from the pool.

"That six feet distance is important no matter where you are," said John Felton, Yellowstone County Health Officer. "One of the things you remember is that when people are exerting themselves, like when they're out in the park playing or they're swimming is they breathe harder, which makes them expel droplets farther. so even a little more distance is good when people are exerting themselves."

Phase two limits pools to 75 percent capacity.

"The pool has to be staffed so they can monitor the number of people in there to make sure they don't exceed capacity limitations," Felton said.

Those running the pools have a big part in helping limit the spread of coronavirus.

"They're required to do sanitation related to cleaning the items that are shared," said Felton "Frequent restroom cleaning. Using showers only for right when they first come in and out of the water. Not anything more than that."

"Spraying down chairs, doorknobs, garbage cans or anything that is a high touch area," said Dr. Brad Fuller, co-owner of Fuller Family Medicine. "I've watched them do that. They do a fantastic job."

Phase two guidelines state that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that properly maintained pool water inactivates the virus.

"In a pool, it's much less likely with the chlorine," Fuller said. "The virus isn't a very stable virus anyway. It gets beat up pretty easily."

"Viruses don't like (ultra violet) light so that helps," Felton said. "They don't like being outside in the sun, so that helps."

But they still say to use precautions.

"It seems to be safe as long as we keep the standards up of staying physically distanced and washing, washing, washing," Fuller said. "Wear a facial covering. I know it sounds strange but it makes a lot of sense."

"You want to keep you family group together," Felton said. "Your household group should stay close. The more we maintain those basic guidelines, the safer we'll all be and we can all enjoy more time outside."

Wading pools at Pioneer and Hawthorne parks opened Monday, also at 75 percent capacity.

Spray grounds at North, Terry, Highland, and Castlerock parks will not open until phase three.