Swimming pools told to use more chlorine when they re-open, new guidelines say

Helena Horton
According to the World Health Organisation, chlorine can kill the virus - CHRISTIAN DITTRICH/AFP/Getty Images

Swimming pools will be told to use more chlorine when they reopen in order to kill the virus, new guidelines from the governing body are expected to say.

After outdoor lakes and ponds reopened for swimming, those who run lidos and indoor pools have been meeting to discuss how to open their lanes safely in the event the government lifts restrictions.

Some have argued that swimming pools should open sooner than other facilities, as according to the World Health Organisation, chlorine kills the virus.

Swim England, which has been working with pool operators to set safety guidelines, is in the process of writing social distancing and chlorination rules for facilities when they open.

Richard Lamburn, Swim England Head of Facilities, said the water could be very safe if properly treated.

He explained: “Scientifically, water that is well filtered with the appropriate level of disinfectant has been shown to be an environment where viruses and bacteria cannot survive. 

“What's more, chlorination, high temperatures and high humidity in the environment significantly reduce the transmission and spread of this virus.

“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a residual concentration of free chlorine of more than 0.5 mg/l in the pool water for a minimum of 30 minutes of contact at a pH of less than 8.0 is sufficient to eliminate enveloped viruses like coronaviruses."

Swim England has set chlorine targets for pools when they reopen, and some may have to up the amount they use.

Mr Lamburn explained: “In order to reduce the contact time to eliminate the virus, Swim England support PWTAG’s recommendation that levels of free chlorine in swimming pools should be at least 1.5mg/l, with a pH value between 7.2-7.4. That would be sufficient in preventing the virus from transmitting through water."

“This recommended free chlorine concentration might be adjusted in accordance with further guidance from Europe and Public Health England.”

Some ponds and lakes opened for swimming this week. The Serpentine in London has opened its gates for members, but cautions all to stay two metres apart and apply alcogel before and after swimming in the lake. Divers' Cove, a manned reservoir in Surrey, is allowing members to book slots, with no more than 40 people allowed in the water at any one time. Both have closed their changing rooms.

 Places for People, which runs council swimming pools in London, is readying for reopening its facilities.

The Chief Operating Officer, John Oxley, said:  "The Government recently announced its ‘road map’ towards the easing of restrictions and the re-opening of the services that we have all enjoyed in the past.

"We are working tirelessly with Swim England to develop the necessary measures that will provide the Government and their medical advisors the confidence that will permit us to re-open swimming facilities. These measures will take account of water chlorination, social distancing, plus sanitising and operational protocols within changing rooms."