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Reopening pools in a body corporate because of COVID-19

Pools can now be reopened after 15 May 2020.

The Queensland Government has released its roadmap to easing restrictions. As part of that roadmap, the first stage includes a number of relaxations to take place from 11:59pm 15 May 2020, including gatherings of up to 10 people in pools.

 

Why can pools be reopened?

On 14 May 2020 the CHO made the tenth “Non-essential business, activity and undertaking Closure Direction” which:

  • revoked the prior directives which included the forced closure of shared pools.
  • Provided that swimming pools can be used as follows:
  • a maximum of 10 swimmers per pool;
  • no spectators (unless it is a parent);
  • no use of communal showers and change rooms;
  • showering should be undertaken at home before and after swimming; and
  • and if for lap swimming – 1 person per lane.

Accordingly, pools can be reopened again with pool users limited to 10 people.

What also needs to be remembered though is that there are still general restrictions (changing on a daily basis) that may restrict or limit pool usage such as social distancing requirements. These other restrictions still apply to the use of pools and other common property facilities.

 

Revisiting the requirement for closing

The Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) (Public Health Act) specifically gives Queensland’s Chief Health Officer (CHO) the power to give any direction the CHO considers necessary to protect public health to assist in containing or responding the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

On 31 March 2020, the CHO made a direction that a person who owns, controls or operates a swimming pool must not operate the swimming pool. This included a pool in shared facilities such as hotels and apartments.

 

What should the committee do?

The committee should decide whether it is in a position to safely reopen the pool. This could depend on the amount it is usually used, how the number of persons using it can be limited, the signage that can be installed and any other hygiene controls that can be implemented.

If the pool is to be reopened, just as closing a pool was a restricted issue, reopening a pool is too.

The specific action that the committee should take will depend on how the pool was closed in the first place and what resolution was passed in doing so. If the committee:

  • utilised the template motion in our previous article, the committee does not need to do anything further (other than continue to ratify the decision at the next general meeting) as the committee’s decision to close the pool was until the Direction is revoked and not replaced with a similar direction requiring the closure of the swimming pool.
  • made a decision to close the pool without contemplating an automatic reopening time it can revoke the previous decision (which a committee is authorised to do pursuant to the decision of Mandolin Resort [2012] QBCCMCmr 545) or pass a new resolution to reopen the pool. As a further resolution to reopen the pool is also a restricted issue, the committee should then make sure that it ratifies both decisions (to close and to reopen) at its next general meeting.

 

What if occupiers or visitors breach conditions?

The committee (and other occupiers) are not in charge of compliance with the Public Health Act, nor do they have the power to take any action for breaches.

If there are occupiers or visitors that are not complying with the Public Health Act, then there is a specific reporting procedure through the Queensland Police Service.

The committee’s role is limited in this regard to:

  • ensuring by-laws are complied with; and
  • that there is appropriate communication and measures in place in relation to the reopening of the pool (for example signage indicating the 10 person rule).

This article was contributed by Todd Garsden, Special Counsel – Mahoneys Lawyers

Leave a Reply

  1. Neil Whittaker

    Is there any info on spas please ?

  2. David

    Can indoor pool be open or just outside pools

  3. Cindy

    Hi David,

    Stage 1 does state reopening of both indoor and outdoor pools with the following conditions:
    Communal swimming pools are open for recreation, training and rehabilitation purposes, ensuring the following rules:

    • one person per lane per lap swimming

    • a maximum of 10 swimmers per pool

    • no spectators, except for up to one parent/carer per child, if necessary

    • communal showers and change rooms are closed, toilets may remain open

    • minimise the use of communal facilities

    • shower with soap before and after swimming (at home, not at the pool)

    Sorry Neil I haven’t seen any direct information relating to spas but our complex has reopened the outdoor spa (Max 2 people) but indoor spas, steam rooms, change rooms, gym etc remain closed.