COVID-19: Swimming Sites

Summary

What are the risks of COVID-19 transmission at swimming sites and what are the recommended preventive measures?

At this time, there is no evidence of a risk of COVID-19 being transmitted through swimming water in either artificial or natural settings. As at other public sites, the primary risk of COVID-19 transmission in swimming facilities is tied to close contact with an infected person, either in or out of the water.

  • Water in swimming pools and other artificial pools:

Higher concentrations of free chlorine and a lower pH level are conditions that contribute to the inactivation of the virus. It is highly likely that SARS-CoV-2 can be inactivated in less than a few minutes in the water of pools treated according to the standards prescribed by the Regulation respecting water quality in swimming pools and other artificial pools.

  • Water from splash pads and misters:
    • For non-recirculating facilities, since the water being sprayed or vaporized is potable water that has not previously been in contact with users, it is very unlikely that this water could be contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and infect users.
    • In facilities with recirculating water that are well-designed and operated and have adequate chlorine concentrations, transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the water is not expected, given the sensitivity of coronaviruses to disinfectants.
  • Water at beaches and other natural settings:

Unlike water in swimming pools and other artificial pools, beach water is not treated with disinfectants. Nevertheless, the risk of transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 virus through beach water is considered very low, among other reasons, because of the existing dilution phenomenon.

  • Recommended preventive measures:

As at other public sites, every effort must be made by operators and users to ensure compliance with health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. It is also recommended that measures to ensure the sanitation and cleanliness of water at swimming facilities continue to be rigorously applied, particularly those prescribed by the Regulation respecting water quality in swimming pools and other artificial pools.

Surfaces frequently touched by users, such as those in locker rooms, showers and bathrooms, should also be cleaned regularly. In addition, it is important to remain vigilant in connection with the loan of equipment and materials. Recommendations concerning this subject are set forth in this document https://www.inspq.qc.ca/publications/3004-lieux-baignade-qr-covid19 [in French only].

Notes: 

The French version, entitled COVID-19 : Lieux de baignade, is also available on the website of the Institut National de santé publique du Québec at: https://www.inspq.qc.ca/publications/3004-lieux-baignade-qr-covid19.

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