Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, but the season may begin without the traditional trip to the swimming pool.
Many Southwestern Pennsylvania municipalities have either delayed their opening or canceled the summer season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dormont Pool is closed for the season while the Mt. Lebanon Outdoor Swim Center and Canonsburg Town Park Pool have delayed their openings.
Some private clubs have already postponed, but Bower Hill Swim Club in Scott Township planned to open.
One of the primary concerns for pools is how to deal with the social distancing and social gatherings guidelines. In the Yellow Phase, groups are limited to 25.
At Mt. Lebanon, which can attract 1,800 patrons on a busy day, Dave Donnellan said “it’s impossible” to social distance and maintain both the safety of the patrons and the employees. The heated outdoor facility features a diving well, slides, climbing wall, water spray area for children and a 25-yard by 50-meter lap and recreational swimming space not to mention locker rooms, concessions and grassy areas appropriate for sunbathing.
“When you look at our foot print,” said the Mt. Lebanon Director of Recreation, ”I don’t know how you can stay 6 feet apart. Who will enforce that? Our lifeguards are their for the safety of the swimmers and we don’t want to take away their focus from that type of thing.
“With the restrictions on group sizing and social distance,” he continued, “it is not feasible or safe to operate a pool,” Donnellan added.
The Mt. Lebanon Outdoor Swim Center did not open May 23.
“Unless something drastically changes,” Donnellan added, “it doesn’t look promising (for the season).”
Chris DeLuca, however, promises Bower Hill Swim Club will be open from 12 to 8 p.m. daily with some restrictions.
“We are a big pool with plenty of room to spread out. We can limit social distance and limit the number of people,” DeLuca said.
The club board member noted lifeguards have been hired and the pool filled with water, cleaned, vacuumed and ready to go for the Memorial Day weekend. DeLuca said the club is just waiting to hear what “stipulations” will be placed on the facility before the heaters are turned on to warm up the waters.
“Everything is in place,” he said. “We are just waiting the green light from the state as to what the rules we have to play buy will be.”
DeLuca noted there is one rule Bower Hill would abide by. If numbers have to be limited, the club would not sell guest passes at the expense of allowing members into the facility.
“We have to be careful and true to our members,” he said.
“There are too many unknowns right now, especially among the scientists,” DeLuca added of those studying the pandemic. “Nothing is black and white and the grey is killing me. But the only thing that would prevent us from opening now is if the state said ‘no.’ They haven’t said anything yet.”
The Allegheny County pools, including the South Park and Settler’s Cabin Wave Pools, as well as the spray parks will be closed this summer due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions regarding mass gatherings.