Health order keeps New Mexico’s public pools closed as temps rise

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the weather warming up, lots of people are wondering when they can jump back into a swimming pool, but that’ll be up to the state to decide. City of Albuquerque Health Department inspectors will start making their rounds next week, making sure swimming pool operators have what they need to reopen just as soon as they’re allowed to.

“Some of the pools are talking about dedicated reserved lap swim and that type of thing, but like higher density events like water polo and things like that, aren’t gonna be as appropriate,” explained Mark DiMenna, Environmental Health Department Deputy Director. DiMenna said starting Tuesday, inspectors will start virtual and on-site inspections of city, apartment complex, and hotel swimming pools.

Example of CABQ signs that will be distributed to public pools

All public pools are currently closed per the state’s public health order, and they’ll stay closed until Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office gives the green light for them to reopen. DiMenna said inspectors will make sure pool operators aren’t waiting on the city once the state gives the go-ahead to open.

“Their chemistry ready, their equipment is ready, you know the safety features and everything are all set up, so that once the restrictions are lifted, they’ll be all set to go and can open immediately,” DiMenna said.

With summer around the corner and temperatures rising outside, the city says it’s already getting lots of calls from people asking when they’ll be able to take their kids swimming again. “My son and I are really ready to swim and everything together, but I think people are being safe,” said Sadé Munirah.

“I’d probably take my little six-year-old sister swimming if they were open. She’s been asking every day, ‘Can I please go swimming?’ And so yeah I’d probably be at the pool,” said Jocelyn Medina.

In a normal year, public pools would be open by Memorial Day weekend. With limited entertainment options, some people are getting antsy. “It’s getting hot you know people wanna be out and there are alternatives to public pools like I said the river, but it’s important if they do open, to follow all safety procedures because we’re all in this together,” Munirah added.

Next week, the Health Department will start to make its rounds at hundreds of sites. DiMenna said they’re working through a waiting list. If a pool operator wants to get on the inspection waitlist, they can call 311. Inspectors will provide signs letting the public know about the state-issued closures, in the hopes people won’t take out their frustrations on their apartment complex staff or the city.

KRQE News 13 asked the Governor’s office which phase of the reopen plan might include swimming pools. A spokesperson for the Governor’s office said pools fall in the same category as other recreational facilities, but the state is constantly evaluating the safety of different services and does not have a reopen date set.

DiMenna said the city is hopeful they’ll be able to reopen swimming pools sometime in June, but with limits on capacity. The city will likely provide COVID-safe practices for public pools that will address capacity limits and cleaning requirements.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resources

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