(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim is explaining why public swimming pools remain closed, even as most businesses and activities are allowed to reopen at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
“The most important reason we cannot reopen the pools is because of the inability to keep the rest rooms and showers clean,” said Mayor Kim in a Monday media release. “The facilities need constant monitoring and disinfection to keep them clean due to the heavy use of the facilities by swimmers and non-swimmers, but that’s not feasible due to the shortage of personnel to do it,” he said.
Mayor Kim’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule No. 8 specifically listed pools alongside bars, nightclubs, large indoor and outdoor venues, and road races as operations that must remain closed.
Mayor Kim offered a slightly different explanation on May 28, when he was asked about the continued pool closure by a viewer watching the online Zoom discussion between Governor David Ige and the four county mayors.
“I think everyone who swims… you know that almost everybody takes in water in the mouth, spits it out, blows their nose and – Lord help us – people even urinate in the pool and whatever,” said Mayor Kim during the livestream. “And in a contained pool, except for a Pacific Ocean, I would not feel safe until I have all the information I need to know that those things are not going to be passed on to me. So, be aware that the swimming pool is one of the areas are going to look at very carefully.”
On Monday, the administration media release said that while Mayor Kim “understands the public’s desire to return everything to normal, his overriding responsibility is to ensure that people are safe from the highly-contagious Coronavirus, under guidelines from the CDC regarding swimming pools, changing rooms and public bathrooms.”
“Until we are assured that we can meet the responsibility to keep the bathrooms and the swimming pools clean, the pools will stay closed to ensure the public safety,” Mayor Kim said.
The County continues to urge the community to keep up their observance of CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus, including social distancing, face coverings and hand washing.
On Saturday, the Big Island saw its first active case reported in three weeks, “a reminder that the virus is still present,” officials said.