THUNDER BAY — Churchill Pool echoed with the sounds of happy children on Wednesday, for the first time since the city closed recreational facilities in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health and safety guidelines require the pool to operate under restrictions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Mornings and lunchtime are currently set aside for lane swimming, while afternoons are preserved for family swims.
There is a limit of 25 people in the pool at a time, with the bookings staggered in 15-minute time slots to allow individual families exclusive use of the changeroom.
To compensate for the fact that swimmers are only allowed one hour of pool time, admission fees have been reduced by 15 per cent.
Supervisor of aquatics, Kim Begin, noted that patrons are required to pre-book by phoning to reserve a swim time rather than just showing up at the pool.
"There's definitely been a demand for the pool related to fitness and to families wanting to swim, so we're happy to meet that need," Begin said in an interview Wednesday.
For health reasons, she said, swimmers are asked to bring their own float boards and personal floatation devices, "because the cleaning process is too much" for staff to maintain at this point.
High-touch surfaces in the pool building will be cleaned on an ongoing basis throughout the day.
Periodically, the pool will also be shut down to allow for a deep clean.
Begin said studies have shown that COVID-19 does not spread through water transmission.
"It's high-touch sursfaces and air transmission, so we're fairly confident about pool water not being a vessel for transmission. The Lifesaving Society has put out guidelines that we're following for safe operation," she said.
The city will release timelines for the reopening of the Canada Games Complex pool and Volunteer Pool next month.