WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The City of Waterbury has reopened its public pools, but with restrictions to keep residents safe from COVID-19.
Heidi Thomas admits she was a little reluctant to dive right in. She brought her teenage daughter, Ami, to the city swimming pool at Fulton Park Wednesday afternoon. She was wary because COVID-19 has hit her city hard, including some people she knows.
“It’s been a traumatic experience,” Heidi said.
She was also cautious because of what swimming at the city pool has looked like during normal summers in the past.
“We have experienced mobs of people,” she said.
That won’t happen this time during the summer of COVID-19. The city has taken numerous steps to limit capacity to 25 swimmers in the pools at Fulton Park, Washington Park, and Hamilton Park.
Before people show up, they have to make a one-hour appointment on the city website or they can walk up and try at any of the locations. If there’s room, you might get in.
Staff workers have laptops at the entrances where they will ask you a series of questions.
“We ask them a couple of general questions regarding CDC guidelines. Have they been to any of the hot spots? Have they had chills or fevers? Have they been exposed to anybody with COVID?” said Victor Cuevas, Waterbury Supervisor of Recreation.
When your one hour in the pool is up, the staff goes to work spraying and wiping down handrails around the pools. They also disinfect the bathrooms and changing room areas.
Then, the next group is allowed in.
There are also big, numbered squares or boxes spray-painted on the cement around the pools. Those boxes are for families or members of the same groups to store their belongings or to dry off. The boxes are six feet apart and are part of the effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“There are also some lines around the pool to control the flow of traffic going one way so at this point no one’s crossing each other as well,” Cuevas said.
Cuevas tells News 8 the city has been working on a plan since March to safely re-open city pools.
“Very detailed, very organized, a lot of work but, you know, we got it done,” Cuevas said.
Heidi left the pool feeling relieved and refreshed on a humid day.
“It really put a big ease in my heart to know that my family and I and my daughter can stay safe,” she said.