(Updated: video, comments from facility supervisor)
Pool operations change with Deschutes County's new COVID-19 guidelines
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Juniper Swim & Fitness Center is "letting the air in" at its swimming pool, to let more people swim amid renewed COVID-19 "Extreme Risk" occupancy limits.
As Deschutes County moved back into the extreme risk category for COVID-19, new guidelines are set for indoor recreation facilities. The center is making adjustments to accommodate community members and adhere to guidelines, including removing the pool's roof earlier than usual.
The indoor swimming pool at the facility transforms into an outdoor pool for the summer months -- the roof comes off. Usually, the roof is removed closer to summer, when the weather is warmer. However, this marks the earliest year the pool will be transitioned to an outdoor facility (coincidentally after a near-record warm day Thursday, with highs in the 80s.).
"Once we heard that we were going to move to the 'red level' within Deschutes County, we pretty much put all hands on deck. We said, 'Let's get the sides and the ends down and let's let people swim," facility Supervisor Clare Gordon said.
The sides of the pool came off Friday, with the roof to be removed next Sunday through Tuesday. The pool will be closed during that time.
Taking off the tent creates more of an open space and allows for better air flow. Gordon said they're glad they can do this so community members can still come and swim.
"I think the impact we saw on the community when we closed and the importance that this facility has to our community, really motivates us to stay open and provide programming to this community," she said. "You know, water is very healing, when people can swim or get in water and exercise. It's really important to people's health, and for families to be able to recreate in an outdoor space and get kids in the water -- kids having access to water is really important to us."
Gordon says people who use the pool regularly were concerned that it would close under the renewed restrictions. With the change, a limited number of people can swim in 55-minute sessions -- but you do need a reservation.
The Larkspur Community Center will also be open, but with only six people at a time in each part of the building. Some fitness classes will also move outside. Swim lessons and other activities have been canceled for at least a week. The governor will re-evaluate the risk levels weekly.
Here's what else is changing for Bend Park & Rec under Extreme Risk:
- Kids Inc, Art Station and most youth enrichment programs will continue without changes.
- Outdoor sports will continue with a maximum capacity of 100 people per field including parents and spectators.
- The Pavilion will remain open for roller sports and open skates with a maximum capacity of 100 people.
- Larkspur Community Center will remain open but be limited to 6 patrons at a time in each portion of the building. Sessions will also be limited to 45 minutes as required by guidance.
- Classes and activities are being modified according to updated public health officials’ guidance.
- Some fitness classes to be relocated to outdoor options at Larkspur Community Center and The Pavilion.
- Virtual fitness classes will continue to be broadcast.
- Some programs and activities will be canceled, including swim lessons, for one week and will be re-evaluated weekly.