Although public pools regulated by local health departments may open for the summer season, Canal Winchester has decided to keep its pool closed.

City public-services director Matt Peoples told council members during their May 18 meeting that the city expected public pools to be allowed to open at some point. He said the decision not to open was based on the "expected gathering and distancing restrictions that would have to be implemented."

The city announced the pool closure May 8.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that pools could reopen May 26 if certain conditions are met to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The guidelines include requiring pool operators to reduce capacity and ensure guests can remain 6 feet apart.

Visitors also cannot gather or swim in groups of more than 10, and the state recommends wearing face coverings when entering and leaving pool areas but not while swimming.

"We feel the requirements for us to open the pool will be more than our lifeguards will be able to handle," Mayor Mike Ebert said. "Enforcing the capacity and distancing would be challenging for high school employees."

Ebert also said both the Franklin County and Columbus public health departments indicated Canal Winchester would be taking "a high risk" if the pool opened.

"If someone at the pool has the virus, you now have to contact everyone who was at the pool that day," Ebert said. "That's getting to be a lot of work."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread "through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water."

Residents also provided written comments in support of keeping the pool closed.

Canal Winchester resident Madeleine Dickerson offered written comments in support of the decision; they are available as part of the council agenda on the city's website.

"Why open up a very small pool packed with kids and adults who won't be distancing?" she asked. "This could be a disaster and not worth the risk."

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