Part 2 – Phase 1 Reopening and Changes for Pools and Recreational Facilities

Steven R. Braten, Shareholder
Vuth Un, Associate

On May 16, 2020, Palm Beach County entered its latest Emergency Order – No. 7 (“PBC Emergency Order 7”), which replaces PBC Emergency Order 5 and provides the latest reopening guidelines for two areas of interest to community associations – tennis/racquet court facilities and community pool facilities.  The Order is effective as of May 18, 2020.

Under PBC Emergency Order 7, all CDC Guidelines, including social distancing guidelines must be adhered to. For Sports Courts, doubles play is now permitted. Some additional rules for tennis and racquet amenities are as follows:

  • Crowds are not allowed to gather on the court or sidelines.
  • Locker and shower facilities shall remain closed. Restrooms may reopen but must be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day, with soap, water, hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes provided in each restroom.
  • Staff and management must still ensure compliance with the Order, however, PBC Emergency Order 7 is much less restrictive than PBC Emergency Order 5.
  • Individual tennis instruction is now allowed as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.

Community association pools may reopen subject to the following guidelines:

  • Pool capacity must be limited to ensure social distancing, in accordance with CDC guidelines, is maintained at all times.
  • Locker and shower facilities must continue to remain closed.
  • Restrooms may reopen but must be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day. Soap, water, hand sanitizer, and/or disinfectant wipes must be provided in each restroom.
  • Seating or lounging on the pool deck must be restricted to ensure compliance with social distancing in accordance with CDC Guidelines.

In addition, PBC Emergency Order 7 made two (2) significant changes from PBC Emergency Order 5 with regard to the monitoring of the pools, and notice to the residents as follows:

  • Staff that is authorized to manage the Community Pool, or their designee, includes but is not limited to Community Pool staff, management company staff, volunteers, board members, or any other authorized persons. Notice shall be provided, either electronically, by mail, and/or posting at the Community Pool or any other place where messages are traditionally posted, one or more notices indicating:

The County has provided clarification on how community associations may go about “ensuring compliance” in the PBC Emergency Order 7 order as follows:  

  • Compliance may be accomplished by any reasonable means including, but not limited to, periodic spot checks, video or other electronic monitoring, and/or telephone hotlines to allow for reporting of violations that are thereafter promptly investigated.

This removes the requirement that staff must be physically present at all times that the pools are open and gives more discretion to the Board on how to accomplish the monitoring, but community associations must investigate a reported violation.

If repeated violations occur, staff authorized to manage the Community Pool, or their designee, are required by PBC Emergency Order 7 to take “corrective action, including, but not limited to, closing the Community Pool, limiting access to the Community Pool on a reservation basis only, and/or limiting access to the pool to only those times when staff is present to monitor for compliance.”

Therefore, while Palm Beach County has appeared to have shifted some responsibility to the user of community pools with the mandatory notice to users, community associations still have a responsibility to monitor compliance with the CDC Guidelines, and take corrective measures if those guidelines are not being adhered to by users, including further limiting the use of the pool facility, reinstituting full time on-site monitoring as was required under PBC Emergency Order 5, or to close the pool facility again.

The bottom-line question continues to be, should Palm Beach County community associations reopen their tennis, racquet ball, and community pool facilities under the latest terms of PBC Emergency Order 5 particularly when the Order continues to require community associations to “ensure compliance” with all guidelines and requirements of the order? 

We strongly recommend that before Palm Beach County community associations do so, boards consult their association legal counsel and professional management companies, if applicable, to confirm their ability to comply with PBC Emergency Order 7, including how they will go about monitoring compliance with this latest order from Palm Beach County.