Updated Guidelines for managing the risk of COVID-19 in Aquatic Facilities

Ahead of the industry’s first ‘living with covid’ summer, the National Aquatic Industry Committee (NAIC) has endorsed updated guidelines on managing the risk of COVID-19 in aquatic facilities and swim schools.


Throughout 2020-2021, the NAIC has met frequently to apply extensions to pool lifeguard, swim teacher and aquatic program instructor licenses and re-accreditations as well as discuss the ongoing needs of the aquatic industry to prepare for the transition.

Speaking of the update, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA) National Manager – Aquatics, RJ Houston stated that the Guidelines provide practical guidance on ways that aquatic facilities and swim schools can maintain safe environments for their patrons.

“As Australia transitions to ‘living with COVID’ all workplaces must find a ‘new normal’ and must continue implementing measures to reduce the spread of the virus, respond to the re-emergence of cases and to play their part in preventing health systems from being overwhelmed,” Mr Houston said.

The aquatic industry has been significantly impacted by lockdown closures associated with COVID-19. As one of the first industries to close and last to re-open each time, an estimated 2,113 aquatic facilities were forced into closure at some point throughout 2020 causing a high proportion of the 67,000 strong workforce, particularly frontline workers, to be stood down.

To assist with this transition, it was agreed by the NAIC that an update to the existing Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations (GSPO): Managing the Risk of COVID-19 in Aquatic Facilities was needed.

The COVID-19 Guidelines are not intended to prescribe specific approaches, but instead seek to help businesses determine what is appropriate for their individual workplaces and circumstances. All workplaces must always follow the rules that apply in their State or Territory.

An updated draft of the COVID-19 Guideline was provided to the committee on 2 September. A feedback form and copy of the Guidelines was circulated to GSPO subscribers and published via Australasian Leisure Management, the RLSSA website, RLSSA and NAIC members’ social media accounts and an EDM newsletter, inviting public comment and feedback.

“The industry provided a great response to the public comment stage of the updated Guidelines. More than 120 comments and feedback have been provided via Royal Life Saving to the NAIC, with every comment considered by the NAIC and RLSSA in re-drafting the Guidelines,” concluded Mr. Houston.

The NAIC voted to endorse the updated Guideline on 13/10/2021.