With summer around the corner, your cooperative may be getting ready to start planning for the opening of swimming pools and other recreational facilities, such as basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds, and parks. However, due to COVID-19, extra attention and careful consideration must be given to ensure that the cooperative is in compliance with any and all local and state COVID-19 restrictions as well as adhering to all CDC guidelines for these types of recreational facilities. As we all know, COVID-19 restrictions vary from state to state with respect to face mask orders, gathering size restrictions, capacity limitations and social distancing requirements, and COVID-19 restrictions are continuing to change. Therefore, it is pertinent for Board of Directors to review and monitor your state’s COVID-19 restrictions to ensure that your cooperative remains in compliance.
The opening of these recreational facilities do not come without issues, such as enforcement and implementation of COVID-19 restrictions that must be addressed by the Board of Directors prior to the opening of these recreational facilities. First and foremost and prior to the opening of any cooperative swimming pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds and parks, it is imperative that the cooperative and/or its management agent contact the cooperative’s insurance agent to determine if there are any ramifications that may be associated from the Board of Director’s decision to open these types of facilities. An example of a potential ramification could be the loss and/or denial of coverage if the cooperative’s insurance policy prohibits the opening of these facilities due to COVID-19 risks. If the Board of Directors is given the approval from its insurance agent, then the Board of Directors must consult with and seek assistance from its cooperative attorney to begin the planning process for opening the cooperative swimming pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds and parks.
With outdoor swimming pools, we are seeing that many states are restricting capacity size to a specific number of persons or reducing bathing capacity to a specific capacity in addition to ensuring that social distancing is maintained and proper cleaning and sanitization is conducted. Restrictions are also being implemented on the number of persons allowed on the pool deck at one time. In this context, a foreseeable issue arises with COVID-19 restrictions as with most outdoor swimming pools; more people may be able to be on the pool deck than in the pool itself. Board of Directors will have to develop a written policy to ensure that members are not disenfranchised if this situation arises.
Another foreseeable issue that comes with the opening of an outdoor swimming pool is the enforcement of local and state restrictions put in place as a result of COVID-19 as well as the implementation of CDC guidelines for pool use. The Board of Directors will have to determine how it will enforce the local and state restrictions in addition to determining who (Board of Directors, cooperative employees and/or management agent) will enforce local and state restrictions. This will require very careful planning to ensure proper policies and procedures are in place. The Board of Directors must also determine whether pool rules will need to be amended to comply with the local and state restrictions put in place as a result of COVID-19 in addition to complying with all CDC guidelines for pool use (i.e., cleaning and sanitization).
With outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds and parks, we are seeing that most states are allowing these types of outdoor facilities to remain open as long as social distancing and any face mask mandates/orders are being followed and enforced. Of course, proper cleaning and sanitization in accordance with the CDC guidelines is also to be implemented for these types of outdoor facilities.
Of course, in the alternative, it could be foreseen that a Board of Directors using its due diligence and business judgment could decide to keep these types of recreational facilities closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. A Board of Directors may determine that the financial costs of enforcement measures and the implementation of local and state COVID-19 restrictions including adherence to the CDC guidelines is a greater risk to the cooperative than keeping these recreational facilities open during the spring and summer months as a result of COVID-19.
Absent a denial from a cooperative’s insurance agent and any local and/or state prohibition of outdoor use of recreational facilities put in place as a result of COVID-19, a Board of Directors could begin to plan for the opening of these types of recreational facilities. However, the Board of Directors must use its due diligence and business judgment to determine whether it can promulgate enforcement measures and ensure compliance in its implementation of local and state COVID-19 restrictions including adherence to the CDC guidelines. It is vital that your cooperative attorney be involved at the onset to not only conduct a full review of all COVID-19 restrictions and CDC guidelines, but also to assist the Board of Directors in developing a written plan that addresses all enforcement issues and ensures complete compliance with any and all local and state COVID-19 restrictions and CDC guidelines.