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The pandemic is by no means over, but as more Americans get vaccinated and fewer people fall ill to COVID-19, this summer is shaping up to be sunnier than the last — particularly for eager pool-goers.
A whopping 93 percent of outdoor swimming pools plan to open this summer, according to a newly published snapshot from the National Recreation and Park Association. But with less than half of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, many will still have restrictions in place to minimize the risk of the virus spreading. These rules will vary, depending on state and local government guidance; individual establishments can also set their own requirements for swimmers.
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Here's what you can expect when you head to the pool this summer.
1. Masks may still be required
Face masks should never be worn in the water (a wet mask can make it hard to breathe), but they are recommended in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) most recently updated guidance for pools. Some pools may still require them out of the water and in crowded areas, such as the snack bar or pool office, regardless of vaccination status.
If masks aren't required at your local pool, you may want to bring one anyway — especially for restrooms, locker rooms and other indoor settings, which are considered higher-risk environments than outside, says Joshua Petrie, a research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. His advice: keep an eye on the transmission rates in your community. If cases are spiking and the virus is circulating, you may want to be more cautious than if numbers in your area are low.