January 16th, 2021

YMCA receives AHS approval to reopen hot tub and steam rooms

By Woodard, Dale on September 24, 2020.

Lifeguard Braeden Legge sanitizes a railing in the pool area as a floating sign marks the hot tub closed at the YMCA. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

Want a soak or a steam?

The Cor Van Raay YMCA is at work to make that happen after the westside facility recently received clearance from Alberta Health Services to reopen the hot tub and steam rooms to adhere to COVID-19 protocol.

“Now we go through the phase of investigating the state of our hot tub and steam rooms after being shut down for six months,” said Ross Jacobs, director of communications for the Lethbridge YMCA. “So there’s water in the hot tub and we’re doing water leak testing for a couple days to determine if anything dried out over the course of it being shut down. Then we have a mandated, at least one-week period of completely operational safe water that has to happen. If anything happens in the next few days from the date it’s given clearance we have to wait seven days from that. We’re not ready to announce what date the hot tub and steam rooms will open, but we have definitely begun the process of getting those facilities offered to Lethbridge.”

The YMCA reopened in AHS Phase 2 in July and Jacobs said the swimmers returning to the facility have been respectful of policy and procedure.

“I think people understand they have to balance their recreation with the new restrictions that are in place. The one thing I’m excited about is we haven’t had any major conflicts. There hasn’t been any undue pressure on our lifeguards to have to say too much to folks.”

Overall, the flow of returning swimmers over the past two months has been slow, but Jacobs stressed the YMCA has taken measures to ensure safety.

“I will tell Lethbridgians we have put a lot of protections in place to keep them safe. So if they’ve been on the fence about whether to come back and swim or come back and use any of the facilities, definitely know we have your protection and safety at heart.”

Jacobs said the hot tub and steam rooms will follow pandemic occupancy limits like everything else.

“So there will definitely be significantly less people in both our hot tubs and steam rooms. We’re currently doing the distance calculations right now and we are going to ask Lethbridge to be patient and when our lifeguards indicate those spaces are full then it will be time to come back a little later. We are probably going to be looking at 10 to 15 per cent of normal occupancy in the hot tub and steam room, but we would rather offer the facility at a reduced occupancy than not offer it at all.”

Jacobs said YMCA membership reactivation is sitting at about 20 per cent of the 10,000 members they had before the COVID closure.

“In terms of weekly body flow through here we were at about 18,500 a week give or take (before) and we’re down to 2,700 to 3,000 people a week.”

Jacobs said people who were YMCA members are still members and technically on hold and just have to call to reactivate their membership.

“We’re only seeing about 1.5 per cent a week growth rate.”

New members are also welcome.

Go to http://www.lethbridgeymca.ca for more information or call (403) 942-5757.

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