With social distancing the new normal, will community pools be open in Spain this summer?

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Community pool in Spain

If you share a swimming pool in a condo with other members of a community of owners, what are the chances you will be able to take a dip under social distancing rules this summer, if you can get to Spain that is?

Following the good news that the two-week quarantine on visitors from abroad will expire on the 1st of July, owners of holiday-homes in Spain might be wondering if the community pool will be open this summer, given the continued obligation of ‘social distancing’ in the new normal world.

It seems the answer depends on whom you talk to.

According to a new order published by the Ministry of Public Health on the 16th of May detailing measures for easing the lockdown, community pools can open up in phase two of the lockdown de-escalation master plan, so long as they operate at 30% capacity, or by appointment / allotted time schedules, meaning strict control over who gets to use the pool when.

The problem is, how many homeowners associations in Spain have the wherewithal to comply with these regulations? Who is going to man the entrance to ensure that no more than 30% of capacity is reached, or that the people in the pool are staying two meters apart? Even in bigger condominiums with more than thirty homes that have to employ a lifeguard, it would be unfair to expect the lifeguard to do this job, experts say.

Other Spanish community pool rules under coronavirus social distancing include:

  • Extra measures for the disinfection and maintenance of the pool and surrounding area, including daily sterilisation of sun loungers.
  • Two meters social distancing respected between all bathers.
  • Installation of disinfectant gel dispensers at the entrance to the pool area
  • Hanging towels over the fencing around the pool area is prohibited

It’s not hard to imagine how difficult it would be getting owners to agree to a roster or time schedule, because most people want to use the pool at the same time, and there is so much scope for conflict over who goes when, especially in holiday-resorts. And even if some sort of agreement could be reached, meetings of homeowners’ associations are not yet allowed, making the agreement impossible to formalise, say experts.

All in all, some argue that the costs of opening community pools and complying with the social distancing rules from the Health Ministry will be too much for most homeowners’ associations to bear without risking fines for rule-breaking. Best not risk it, they say.

“The conditions imposed on the opening of recreational pools in phase 2 are very far from the reality of homeowners’ associations,” argues Madrid’s College of Professional Estate Managers (CAFMadrid). “Without more precise regulations, that will give rise to conflicts between neighbours.”

Community pools are private property free of Covid-19 restrictions?

On the other hand, some lawyers argue that the Health Ministry restrictions only apply to public facilities, not to community pools, which are shared but private property. They point to language in the rules referring to spaces “open to the public” and “spaces for public use”, which arguably don’t apply to private facilities shared by a Community of Owners.

Whatever the case, Just imagine angry owners and holiday-rent clients in swimming costumes with the whole family in tow arguing over who can use the pool. And who wants a summer holiday in Spain if you can’t have a swim?

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Keeping cool by the pool in Spain

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