Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood has announced that the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center (AHAC) will reopen to the public on Monday, September 14, 2020, with strict measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Plans to resume limited Aquatic Center services are allowed under Governor Jay Inslee’s amended Phase 2 Safe Start plan for indoor pools.
Pool use will require pre-registration and be limited to pass holders, with scholarships available for those who do not have passes. Activities offered beginning September 14 include lap swimming, water walking, deep water running and water aerobics. Swim lessons may be resumed later, depending upon demand. Open swims are not permissible until at least Phase 4.
Mayor Fleetwood said that, prior to the COVID-19 closure, the Aquatic Center averaged 10,000-15,000 visits per month.
“We are very pleased to resume limited use of the Aquatic Center with strict measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “Many people use our aquatic facilities, and its closure has been especially difficult for people of all ages and abilities who rely on it for recreation, personal fitness, and swim team training. For our regular users, and for others seeking safe indoor recreation options as fall approaches, the Aquatic Center is an important community service that we are glad to make available even with necessary limits in place.”
“Due to the capacity limits and costs associated with staffing the pool, we originally planned to delay opening until Phase 3,” said Nicole Oliver, Parks and Recreation Director. “After assessing community needs and evaluating the revised state guidance carefully, to ensure financial and health and safety goals could be met, we are excited to be able to reopen to the public now,” Oliver stated.
Oliver said the Aquatic Center must ensure strict adherence to all measures established by Governor Inslee’s guidance. Visitors can expect several safety protocols put into place as well as controlled access to the facility. Guidelines are subject to change according to the Governor’s Office and health department recommendations.
Safety protocols include, but are not limited to:
- Cloth face coverings are required by all, except when in the water.
- Plexiglass screens will be placed between staff and participants at the front desk.
- The facility will maintain as much fresh air flow as possible throughout, including the natatorium, locker rooms, and offices.
- Aquatic staff will complete touch point cleaning on an hourly basis of door handles, counters, benches, plexiglass, ladders, toilets, sinks and showers. Facilities staff will complete a nightly deep cleaning of the facility.
- Aquatic Center swimming equipment, diving board and waterslide will be closed/unavailable.
- Social distancing of six feet or more between individuals is required (land and water) unless living within the same household.
- Signage and markings will be posted noting appropriate entrances/exits and social distancing within and outside the facility.
- Revised rescue and first aid protocols are in place to ensure both staff and visitor safety during any emergency.
- All staff will receive additional training on new health safety protocols including cleaning, rescue and first aid procedures, rule enforcement/education, program/activity guidelines, personal protection equipment and other equipment use and signage/directional markers and communication to participants.
- Reduced hours of operation depending on staff availability (exact hours TBD).
- Participants must be registered to enter the facility, except for community shower users.
- Aquatics staff will arrange dedicated swim team rental periods to ensure lap lane availability for other pool users.
All protocols and guidance are subject to additional modifications based on new directives from the Governor or the Department of Health.
Further details and schedules will be posted soon on the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center page of the City website. For more information, or to purchase a pass, contact the Aquatic Center at (360) 778-7665.