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Pools slowly open across Hamilton-Niagara amid heat warning and pandemic

Seven of Hamilton's indoor and two outdoor pools opened on Monday July 6, 2020 with new rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seven of Hamilton's indoor and two outdoor pools opened on Monday July 6, 2020 with new rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Don Mitchell / Global News

As the Hamilton-Niagara region heads into the second week of a heat alert issued by Environment Canada, a number of municipalities have begun to open indoor and outdoor pools to provide some relief from temperatures expected to be in the high 30s.

However, swimmers will have to abide by a number of physical distancing measures this summer as well as time limits at regional pools in accordance with provincial orders in the second stage of its COVID-19 recovery plan announced in late June.

Hamilton

On Monday, Hamilton, Ont. opened seven indoor pools and two outdoor pools which will operate between noon and 7 p.m., seven days a week, until early September.

H.G. Brewster Pool, Huntington Park, Jimmy Thompson, Ryerson, Sir Winston Churchill, Stony Creek and Westmount opened on July 6 as did two outdoor pools – Coronation and Ancaster Lions.

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“There will be reduced capacity and sometimes you will have to line up for use of the pool,” Hamilton’s emergency operations director Paul Johnson said in a city update on the weekend. “That’s all so that we can conform with the guidelines that have been provided for pool reopenings by the province.”

Read more: 154 new coronavirus cases, 0 deaths in Ontario; total cases at 35,948

Walker, Inch Park, Green Acres and Birge outdoor pools are a week behind and expected to open on July 13.

City pools, arenas and community centres were closed during the spring and beginning of summer due to the pandemic. Sixty-five of Hamilton’s 68 spray pads have been operating since June 19.

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Both the city’s pools and spray pads have enlisted a number of new precautions due to the pandemic.

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Swimmers can expect reduced capacities and time limits of about every hour and a half to allow crews to evacuate and disinfect facilities from time to time.

Other COVID-19 protocols include:

  • Screenings before being admitted
  • Limited space for personal belongings and lockers/baskets
  • Patrons encouraged to come already changed and asked to shower at home
  • Snorkels, balls, large floats are not permitted
  • Spectators/non-bathers are not permitted on the pool deck
  • Limited alternative viewing areas may be available at some locations
  • Slides, diving boards, spas, and warm pools are not available

St Catharines

Pools in St. Catharines are still closed until further notice to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to the city.

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However, the city’s splash pads are operating with extended hours (9 am. to 8 p.m.) amid the region’s heat alert and will do so until the alert is lifted.

Read more: Canadian actor Nick Cordero, 41, dies after months-long battle with COVID-19 complications

The city of Welland is preparing to open the Rosie Smith Memorial Swimming Pool on Friday which will also enact pandemic protocols limiting the number of people allowed to use the pool at any given time. Spray pads in Welland will be opening on July 11.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Fall’s five outdoor swimming pools are also open including E.E. Mitchelson Park, Prince Charles, Leslie, Niagara Falls Lions Club and Hinsperger pools. The pools also will require coronavirus screenings from prospective swimmers, in addition to limited access to the change rooms, and a shut down every hour for COVID-19 cleaning measures.

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Burlington

All city-run pools in Burlington are closed due to the pandemic while two others, Angela Coughlan pool and Aldershot, are closed for renovations.

All seven spray pads are open and operating seven days a week at Bolus Garden, Dofasco Plaza, Hidden Valley Park, Ireland Park, Millcroft, Norton Park and Orchard Park.

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