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COVID19: Swimming pools reopen earlier than planned

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With scientists confirming coronavirus is not transmitted through water, especially if it contains chlorine, Cyprus reopened its swimming pools on Friday.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday where ministers decided to speed up the country’s lockdown exit plan, as stage three will finish earlier than planned on June 24 instead of 14 July.

Epidemiologists argue there is no risk of coronavirus infection in swimming pools if people follow the Health Ministry’s protocol.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency professor of microbiology and molecular virology at the University of Nicosia, Dr Peter Karayiannis said: “The protocols are stricter than I expected and if people follow them, everything will be fine”.

Karayiannis noted that most of the health protocols had to be followed by swimming pools even before the outbreak of COVID-19 apart from social distancing.

The Health Ministry introduced restrictions on the maximum number of people that can be accommodated at any time in the swimming pool.

Swimmers must observe the two-metre social distancing measures inside and outside the swimming pool.

Open swimming pools: 1 swimmer for every 5 m² of water surface.

Indoor swimming pools: 1 swimmer for every 10 m² of water surface.

The Health Ministry also issued guidelines for swimmers and visitors who are urged to follow the rules of personal hygiene, such as washing hands, taking showers, use of flip flops in the locker and shower room.

Visitors will have to use a foot bath to disinfect the feet before entering the pool.

The opening of swimming pools on Friday is part of the third stage of easing restrictions imposed to stem the spread COVID-19 in the community.

The rest of stage three will be implemented based on a roadmap extending until 24 June.

On 9 June, Cyprus is reopening airports, malls, ports facilitating cruise ships, the indoor catering facilities of restaurants and hotels, open-air theatres, and cinemas.

Sports events can also resume, without the presence of spectators. However, the majority of sports events have been called off.

Meanwhile, kindergartens and nurseries, along with children’s clubs, outdoor playgrounds, all-day summer, and public schools are also opening next Tuesday.

As of 13 June, casinos will be permitted to reopen, along with dance schools, martial arts schools, gyms, theme parks, waterparks, and other amusement parks.

No final decisions have been taken regarding the fourth phase, apart from theatres and indoor cinemas will open at the beginning of August.

Events such as concerts and large weddings will probably be allowed as of September.

“If we do not have cases in the community, then large weddings could be carried out more securely,” Karayiannis said.