PORT ANGELES — Shore Aquatic Center can remain open at a reduced capacity during the coronavirus pandemic because of safety protocols and science, pool Director Steve Burke said.
Burke said he issued a statement Thursday explaining why the pool can stay open despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent coronavirus restrictions after fielding questions from the public.
The Port Angeles aquatic center reopened last month after a 17-month closure for a $20 million expansion and renovation.
Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank has repeatedly said it is safe to swim at indoor pools as long as the pool follows COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“The pool has worked very closely with our office on safety protocols, and we have great confidence in their ability to follow them,” Unthank said in a recent email.
While COVID-19 restrictions allow a maximum of 87 at Shore Aquatic Center, guest capacity has been kept at 47.
“We limit attendance by requiring pool-specific sessions by reservation only,” Burke said.
Eight 90-minute sessions are offered Monday through Friday beginning at 5:30 a.m. Six sessions are available on Saturdays and four are offered on Sundays.
Reservations can be made online at www.sacpa.org after guests register in person once, Burke said.
Burke said there are two main reasons why the risk of COVID-19 exposure is low at the pool: fresh air and chlorination.
“Our facility has 8.0 fresh air changes per hour,” Burke said.
“This means every 7.5 minutes our facility has completely turned over all our inside air with new fresh air. This significantly reduces risk of airborne transmission of a virus.”
Since chlorinated pool water kills viruses, swimmers are constantly being disinfected, Burke said.
Shore Aquatic Center converts saltwater to a neutral gas chlorine on site.
“Additionally, Shore Aquatic Center’s system passes all our water through UV light that has been shown to be effective in inactivating the virus,” Burke said.
“So if you need to be indoors, being indoors at an aquatic center is one of the safest places to be.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].