DC Enters Phase 2 Reopening
On June 19, the Mayor’s office announced that the District of Columbia would enter “Phase 2” of the reopening process and released guidance that was immensely more detailed than the Phase One guidelines. Under Phase 2, which starts on June 22, community associations may open their pools and fitness facilities, but with a variety of restrictions and requirements.
What is the content of the Mayor’s Order?
The complete text of the Mayor’s Order 2020-75 regarding “Phase 2” is located here. The Order generally allows mass gatherings of up to 50 persons, unless more specific guidance dictates otherwise. Gyms are permitted to reopen with capacity limits of 5 persons per one thousand square feet. Swimming pools may be opened, provided social distancing is maintained and that each resident signs in each day, with the date, time of visit, address and phone number (to facilitate contact tracing).
In addition to the Order itself, the Mayor’s office also released more specific “Guidance” documents for specific kinds of facilities, as noted below.
Specific Guidance for Condominiums and Apartments located here.
This guidance sets forth a variety of directives to building residents and visitors, including the wearing of masks, practicing social distancing and encouraging proper hand hygiene. In addition, the Guidance directs associations to take certain steps calculated to minimize the spread of the coronoavirus in the building and its facilities. These steps include utilizing “virtual tours” for real estate showings, adding signage regarding social distancing and educating residents as much as possible through electronic communications.
This guidance also includes requirements for pool facilities, which may be opened — but only with strict requirements, such as:
- Resident-only use of pool
- Required social distancing in the pool and deck area, with furniture rearranged to ensure six feet of distance.
- Prominent postings of name/contact information for person responsible for safety issues.
- Written plan to implement the pool guidance requirements.
- Posting signage reminding residents that they should not attend if they have been exposed to COVID19 or are feeling unwell
- Maintain a record of those using the pool
Consult the full text of the Order for additional requirements. Note that it may be advisable for patrons to sign an “assumption of risk” form, given that associations cannot guarantee that the facility is virus-free at all times, particularly in the midst of a pandemic.
Guidance for Gyms and Fitness Centers located here.
Associations may (but are not required to) open their fitness centers and gyms, with similar requirements as noted above. Examples include:
- Workout areas must be arranged to ensure at least 10 feet of space in all directions between patrons.
- Transparent shields must be installed as barriers where social distancing is not an option, such as when patrons are checking in.
- Visual cues must be used to help prevent congregating of people, and different entry/exit points must be used where possible.
- Equipment should be cleaned between each use.
- Encourage patrons to use one piece of equipment at a time so machines can be cleaned by staff after use.
- There must be a plan for cleaning and disinfecting high traffic and high-touch surface areas throughout the day and between client use.
- Plan must be established in the event a patron is diagnosed with COVID19.
- Maintain check-in logs and class rosters.
What other factors should associations consider in deciding whether to open recreational facilities?
While the Phase 2 guidelines permit associations to open various facilities, please note that it remains an association’s business decision whether to reopen such facilities. Obviously, there are substantial challenges and costs associated with meeting the new standards, so associations should carefully consider whether they have the requisite resources (such as personnel) to operate their facilities in conformance with the guidelines.
In addition, associations should review potential liability issues, including a determination of whether liability insurance policies are likely to cover claims related to contraction of COVID. Whether to open may be a difficult business decision. Associations should consult with their management, legal and insurance professionals as they weigh these issues.
Federal, state and local responses to COVID-19 are changing quickly. We encourage associations to monitor relevant government websites and this page for further updates.
Legal Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of each case and each association’s governing documents. Also, it is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of all legal considerations, nor should it be used to replace the individualized advice of your legal counsel.