Savannah, Chatham County pools remain closed, despite ability to reopen

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It has been one week since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp allowed public pools to open across the state. Environmental Health is ramping up inspections, but it does not mean every pool in the Coastal Empire is open for business.

The City of Savannah says it will not open public pools until it enters Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Right now, they have not yet entered Phase 1.

When pools do open, Mayor Van Johnson says to “expect things to be drastically different. Expect there to be shorter sessions, multiple sessions, less capacity than we’re used to.”

Chatham County says the Aquatic Center is closed for other reasons. A $500 thousand renovation was scheduled for late summer. It was moved to March when the facility was forced to close to abide by the governor’s orders.

“As soon as there weren’t any people in the building, we were able to rent a lot of deep cleaning equipment and do work on the pool,” said Chatham County Parks and Recreation Facilities Manager Holly Holdsworth.

Holdsworth says crews are repaving pools, improving lighting, and repainting the lobby, among other projects.

Usually, the center is packed with people learning how to swim before the summer season. Holdsworth and her team are now figuring out how to resume lessons and reopen when renovations wrap up in mid-June.

“It’s a public safety concern for us that there’s people out there that are gong into other bodies of water — not ours — and may not have the skills sets to do that,” she said.

Brant Phelps — the Environmental Health Director at the Coastal Health District — says at the very least, chlorine deactivates the coronavirus. The problem, however, is controlling crowds and disinfecting surfaces outside the water.

“We’re out there doing inspections, checking everything we can to make it as safe as we can. But there’s always going to be risk involved,” said Phelps.

Since March, Environmental Health has inspected nearly half of the 962 pools in the district. They always check chlorine levels.

The Coastal Health District released the following guidelines to reopen pools in the Coastal Empire.

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