Swimming pools will be told to use more chlorine when they reopen to the public after research showed a certain concentration of the chemical kills coronavirus.
Britons are able to swim outdoors in lakes and the sea under eased lockdown rules, but Boris Johnson said last month ‘we can’t do anything for swimming pools’ because there is a ‘lower risk outdoors than indoors.’
Research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has, however, found a certain concentration of chlorine can eliminate coronavirus in water.
Swim England, the national governing body for the sport, is now developing social distancing and chlorination rules for 4,000 indoor facilities when they eventually reopen to the public, the Telegraph reported.
Swim England, the national governing body for the sport, is developing social distancing and chlorination rules for 4,000 indoor facilities when they eventually reopen to the public (Pictured: Saltdean Lido, London on May 14)
Richard Lamburn, Swim England Head of Facilities, said pool water which is ‘well filtered with the appropriate level of disinfectant has been shown to be an environment where viruses and bacteria cannot survive.’
He added that ‘chlorination, high temperatures and high humidity’ in the environment also significantly reduce spread of the deadly virus, which has killed more than 36,124 people in Britain.
‘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,’ he said.
Chlorine kills bacteria and viruses in water by forming a weak acid called hypochlorous acid, which is able to destroy bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and eliminate viruses including influenza.
It works by effectively tearing apart a pathogen and breaching its cell walls. But for the acid to be effective, it needs to remain at a pH of between 7.2 and 7.8.
Mr Lamburn added that Swim England, which has been working with operators on how to maintain their pools since they were shut on March 20, has now developed chlorine targets for facilities when they eventually reopen.
Richard Lamburn, Swim England Head of Facilities, said pool water which is ‘well filtered with the appropriate level of disinfectant has been shown to be an environment where viruses and bacteria cannot survive’ (Pictured: Tooting Bec Lido on May 14)
Mr Lamburn explained last month that Swim England would ideally like up to three weeks’ notice for the industry to get pools ready for public use
‘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,’ he said.
‘That would be sufficient in preventing the virus from transmitting through water.’
He explained last month that Swim England would ideally like up to three weeks’ notice for the industry to get pools ready for public use.
Before this could happen, a number of procedures would need to be carried out, a document said, including reheating the pool and ensuring the water has passed a micro-biological test.
Pictured: A family cool off in the River Lea on Thursday as temperatures soar across Britain
Crowds of people visiting Southend beach during hot and sunny weather in Southend, Essex yesterday as temperatures rose
Mr Lamburn said: ‘We have been in regular communication with key stakeholders regarding the impact on facilities and have also been sharing knowledge and information with Sport England, Swim Ireland, Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales.
‘A lot of pools have never closed before so we’ve been providing the guidance and support needed to local authorities and operators to ensure they were safely shut down and maintained.’
Places for People, which maintains council-run swimming pools in London, added it was ‘working tirelessly’ with Swim England to prepare for the reopening of indoor facilities.
Under eased Covid-19 restrictions, Britons are permitted to spend time outdoors, for example picnicking and sunbathing, with one person from outside their household so long as they stay two-metres apart.
People can now also exercise outdoors more than once a day, and use outdoor sports courts and facilities.
Boris Johnson explained these changes allow people to access lakes and the sea, but told MPs earlier this month ‘we can’t do anything for swimming pools’ because there is a ‘lower risk outdoors than indoors.’
Photographs taken as temperatures soared this week captured dozens of Britons as they flocked to beaches and lakes to enjoy the glorious sunshine.
Tooting Bec and Saldean lidos remained abandoned in eery images, however, as they were closed to those in the capital amid the coronavirus crisis.