Metro Atlanta public pool openings delayed in summer of COVID-19

Piedmont Park Aquatic Center June 13, 2009.  The new pool features water spray, lap lanes, shallow wading section and a channel for floating.    BRANT SANDERLIN /

Piedmont Park Aquatic Center June 13, 2009. The new pool features water spray, lap lanes, shallow wading section and a channel for floating. BRANT SANDERLIN /

Those planning to beat summer of COVID-19 heat with a cool dip in the pool will need to take a chill pill; public pools will probably open later than usual this year  if they open at all.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, set to expire May 14, prevents public pools from opening — including those in subdivisions, apartments, condominiums, fitness centers, hotels and parks.

Pools in metro Atlanta typically open near Memorial Day, but local leaders contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution aren’t in a rush to meet the usual deadline.

Cobb's pools are closed "TFN," said Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt, using the acronym for "until further notice."

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The opening date for Atlanta’s pools are on hold too.

“Currently, there are no plans to open recreation facilities — including pools, basketball courts or playgrounds — in the immediate future,” said Michael Smith, press secretary for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Whenever Atlanta’s popular Piedmont Park pool reopens, new rules will be in place, said Amy Han Risher, spokesperson for the Piedmont Park Conservancy, which manages the pool.

“If the pool does open on the original opening day of Memorial Day weekend, or later in the summer, we will adjust capacity to ensure we follow public health recommendations in addition to other measures that help with distancing. All details of these plans are to be determined,” Risher said.

In Gwinnett County, it’s the same story. There’s no opening date for the county’s nine pools and aquatic centers, spokesman Joe Sorenson said. Decisions have not been made regarding when or how they would open, if the number of guests would be capped or if there will be temperature or symptom screenings upon entry.

DeKalb County has no plans to reopen their pools anytime soon. Citing Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order, DeKalb Board of Health spokesman Eric Nickens said pools can’t open and will await the next step from Kemp's office.

“Right now, we’re in a holding pattern,” Nickens said.

In Alpharetta, Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said no decisions have been made on opening the pool at Wills Park.

Roswell Community Relations Manager Julie Brechbill also said no decision has been made to reopen or not reopen the pools and water playgrounds at city parks.

“The city is consistently monitoring data from the Georgia Department of Health, Fulton County Department of Health and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House,” said Brechbill in a statement.

The GDPH is currently developing guidelines for public pools to follow once they are allowed to reopen, according to a department document issued May 1. The document said all privately run pools and hot tubs were required to close but could still perform maintenance and inspection work.

Operating a public pool in violation of the state order is a misdemeanor, and law enforcement officers have been directed to provide warnings before handing out citations or making arrests.

Cavitt said deciding when to open facilities where people gather in clusters requires extra caution due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Pools and senior centers will probably be the last county facilities to open,” he said.