DHHS & LSV Response to Coronavirus in Aquatic and Leisure Facilities

DHHS & LSV Response to Coronavirus in Aquatic and Leisure Facilities

The Department for Health and Human Services has today released key messages and advice specific to public aquatic facilities.

The advice is broken into two sections:

  1. Response to questions from members of the public on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and aquatic facilities

(Reactive response for use by DHHS Water Unit and aquatic facilities)

Water quality at Victorian aquatic facilities is regulated by Local Government and the Department of Health and Human Services under the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019. Aquatic facilities are required to treat all pool water using disinfectants such as chlorine to destroy germs such as coronavirus (COVID-19).

Members of the public are reminded to:

  • Maintain good hygiene practices with frequent hand washing
  • Take pre-swim showers before entering the pool
  • Do not visit an aquatic facility if unwell.
  • Do not swim if you have diarrhoea and for 14 days after symptoms have stopped

We encourage you to follow the instructions and recommendations by the Department of Health and Human Services website on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to get the most up to date information.

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

  1. Response to questions from aquatic facilities on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

(Information to aquatic facility managers and pool operators provided by the DHHS Water Unit and Local Government)

Aquatic facilities are required to manage water quality in swimming pools, spa pools and interactive water features in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019.

Exposure to pathogens in the workplace including in pool water, should be managed by ‘business as usual’ water quality requirements and occupational health and safety requirements including hygiene practices (such as more frequent hand-washing).

Aquatic facilities are reminded to:

  • Continue to frequently monitor and test pool water quality to ensure compliance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019
  • Encourage all staff and visitors to take pre-swim showers
  • Ensure all faecal incidents are managed appropriately
  • Continue to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the aquatic facility environment
  • Reinforce ill swimmer exclusions and discourage any ill patrons from visiting the aquatic facility

Aquatic facility staff can stay up to date with the latest information and recommendations about COVID-19 through the DHHS website https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.  They may wish to display posters available on this site to encourage behaviours that reduce the spread of infection.

Further advice collated by LSV:

Steps to Safety

A range of precautionary measures are available and are recommended to support in mitigating the risk and protecting the safety and wellbeing of staff and patrons. These include:

  • Reviewing existing cleaning and disinfectant processes internally and with contractors;
  • Adjust programming to account for social distancing (1.5m)
  • Communicating and enforcing the wiping down of equipment;
  • Ensuring post group exercise class equipment cleaning;
  • Considering the cleanliness of high-contact surfaces – door / locker handles;
  • Eliminating skin to skin contact where possible;
  • Strategically placing sanitiser and soap dispensers around the facility;
  • Enforcing and communicating the importance of pre and post swim showering / hygiene;
  • Not allowing staff or patrons to leave unhygienic items in lockers;
  • Encouraging good general hygiene practices;
  • Adhering to the existing water quality guidelines for public aquatic facilities;
  • Determining your escalation triggers and establishing what actions will be taken should the challenges associated with the outbreak continue to increase.

Supporting Staff and Patrons

  • Complete a risk assessment to meet the requirements of WorkSafe / legislation https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/promotional-material-coronavirus-disease-covid-19
  • Encourage staff and patrons to use the self-assessment available on DHHS’ website: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/202003/2001628_COVID-19%20Self%20assessment%20for%20risk_A3_V14.pdf
  • Keep communications to staff and contractors regular and simple;
  • There is no benefit of additional pool water treatment or superchlorination efforts, above the existing legislated provisions;
  • Encourage anyone with concerns to contact the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398;
  • Make use of Victorian Department of Health and Human Services resources where possible;
  • Do not encourage the use of face masks for those that are well;
  • Encourage people to get the flu shot;
  • Consider how to support staff and patrons at a higher level of risk (Aged over 80 years, with a cardiovascular disease, with diabetes or high blood pressure, with chronic respiratory disease with fever, cough or shortness of breath);
  • Consider how you well manage and support casual employees, if attendances / closures affect their ability to work;
  • Consider how you will manage membership / activity cancellations or reduced registrations;
  • Review / develop an infection control policy;
  • How will staff be supported should they need to self-isolate; and
  • Anyone having travelled overseas should self-isolate for 14-days and if you begin feeling unwell call the hotline.

Should you have any immediate concerns for your own health, please contact the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

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