COVID-19 and Public Pools and Beaches

Public aquatic venues can be owned or operated by

  • Apartment complexes
  • Homeowners’ associations
  • Hotels and motels
  • Membership clubs (for example, gyms)
  • Schools
  • Waterparks
  • Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial governments

There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through water in swimming pools, hot tubs, or splash pads, or through fresh or marine water (such as in lakes, rivers, ponds, and oceans). Maintaining proper water disinfection with chlorine or bromine should inactivate the virus in pools, hot tubs, and splash pads.

Operators and managers of public pools, hot tubs, splash pads, or fresh or marine beaches should continue to follow federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial guidance and work with local health officials.

Reduce the risk of spread

Operators and managers of public aquatic venues can take the following steps to prevent the spread of the virus:

  1. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area.

Updated information can be found on CDC’s COVID-19 by County web page.

  • Vaccination gives aquatics staff—who might need to rescue distressed swimmers, perform CPR, or give first aid—the best available protection against COVID-19.
  • Educate staff and visitors about
    • What to do if they were exposed to COVID-19 of if they have COVID-19.
    • Not wearing masks in the water. Wet masks can make it difficult to breathe and likely will not work as well as dry masks.
  1. Improve ventilation in indoor aquatic spaces.

Proper ventilation can reduce the concentration of virus particles in the air. To improve air ventilation in indoor aquatic spaces, consider the following steps:

  • Ensure the indoor air handling system for aquatic spaces is operating properly and providing acceptable indoor air quality for each space. Ensure restroom exhaust fans are functional and operating at full capacity when the building is occupied.
  • Adjust heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system outdoor air dampers to bring in as much outdoor air as possible while maintaining acceptable temperature and humidity control.
  • Consider other steps to bring in and circulate as much outdoor air as possible,including changing the air handling system’s time clock to introduce code ventilation 24 hours per day (no off cycle).
  • Improve central air filtration:
    • Increase air filtration to a MERV-13 or as high as possible without substantially reducing airflow.
    • Ensure filters are installed correctly and are within their recommended service life.
    • Inspect filter housing and racks to ensure appropriate filter fit and minimize filter bypass.
    • Verify proper airflow through the air handler after upgraded filter installation.
  • If the air handling system has a purge mode, consider running a purge sequence starting 3 hours before an event (for example, swim meets, other sports competitions, or pool parties).
    • Turn the system back to normal ventilation 1 hour before the event to allow the environment to become stable. Run the purge mode again for 2 hours after the event.
  • Consider using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) as a supplement to help inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19, especially if options for increasing the delivery of clean air are limited. In-duct UVGI systems can help enhance air cleaning inside central ventilation systems.
    • Consult with a reputable UVGI manufacturer or an experienced UVGI system designer prior to installing these systems. These professionals can assist by doing necessary calculations, making fixture selections, properly installing the system, and testing for proper operation specific to the setting.
Page last reviewed: January 27, 2022