COVID-19 Aquatic and Recreation Reopening

Frequently Asked Questions

The NSW Government has announced that outdoor swimming pools in stay-at-home areas and areas of concern will be permitted to reopen from Monday 27 September 2021. In order to reopen, outdoor swimming pools in stay-at-home areas and areas of concern must have completed a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

You can access the COVID-19 Safety Plan for Outdoor Swimming Pools in stay-at-home areas and areas of concern at the following link:


Are venues required to exclude staff, volunteers and visitors who are unwell from the premises?

If staff, visitors, contractors or customers are unwell they should be excluded from attending your facility. It is important they stay home and get tested immediately. Workers and customers should not return until they have returned a negative test result.

Some reasonable actions that venues may take to ensure those who are unwell do not attend, are noted below:

  • Provide signage informing of the requirement to stay home and get tested if unwell at the point of entry for customers, in staff communications and on staff noticeboards
  • Ask screening questions to understand if it is safe for your customers to visit
  • If a person reports symptoms, ask that they delay their visit. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested.

NSW Health provides a range of resources to support the education of staff and customers:

How many people are allowed to visit an outdoor pool?

Capacity at the facility, including in any pools, must not exceed one person per 4 square metres of the outdoor area of the premises. We encourage operators to consider capacity limits on lane space to ensure the safe flow of patrons in the water.

Do customers have to be fully vaccinated to attend outdoor pools?

At the time of writing, customers do not have to be fully vaccinated to attend outdoor swimming pools. However, pool operators must take reasonably practicable steps to ensure people who are not from the same household do not gather in groups of more than:

  • If all people in the gathering who are 16 and over are fully vaccinated – 5 persons, not including children 12 years and younger, or
  • 2 people who are not vaccinated.

You are required to take reasonable steps to ensure people who are not from the same household do not gather in line with the above requirements. This may include:

  • Provide signage at the point of entry and appropriate locations in spaces where people may gather
  • Inform customers at the point of entry of physical distancing requirements
  • Ask screening questions at the point of entry
  • Use of public address systems to reinforce messages of physical distancing to customers

Staff should also be active in communicating with customers, both within the facility and at entrances, to ensure groups physically distance or are encouraged to move on where appropriate.

Note, operators should be aware that entry requirements relating to vaccination status may change when NSW reaches its 70% vaccination milestone. The ARINSW supports the NSW Government in strongly recommending that all eligible members of the community get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Do staff have to be fully vaccinated to work at outdoor pools?

At the time of writing, staff do not have to be fully vaccinated to work at an outdoor swimming pool. The NSW Government has stated that employees must be fully vaccinated once the state hits the 70% vaccination milestone. More information on the NSW Government’s Roadmap can be found at the following link:

The ARINSW supports the NSW Government in strongly recommending that all staff of aquatic and recreation facilities get a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure workers are prepared when this milestone is reached.

COVID-19 Vaccination appointments are now available from medical practitioners, pharmacies and NSW Health designated providers. Information on COVID-19 vaccination providers in your local area can be found at the following link:

What activities are permitted to be undertaken at outdoor pools?

Outdoor pools can open for exercise and recreation. This may include lap swimming, lane walking, leisure and recreational swimming and children’s swimming. Venues are asked to consider adopting strategies to reduce people congregating for long periods of time around the pool when not swimming, such as:

  • promoting the concept of ‘arrive, swim, leave’
  • introducing timed entry sessions
  • displaying signage
  • PA announcements, and
  • restricting access to communal seating areas.

Are splash parks, waterslides and amusements permitted to be open?

Outdoor splash parks, waterslides and aquatic amusements are permitted to reopen. Operators must consider if reasonable steps can be taken to ensure physical distancing in these areas, perform frequent cleaning of hard surfaces and high touch points, and other suitable actions to mitigate the risk of COVID transmission.

Are staff and customers required to wear masks?

Yes, face masks must be worn by staff and customers, unless exempt. People engaging in exercise are exempt. Lifeguards may remove masks during emergency situations and to assist with clear communication.

Are staff and customers required to physically distance?

Yes, staff and customers should maintain 1.5m physical distance where possible including:

  • at points of mixing or queuing, including at the ends of the pool
  • between seated groups
  • between staff.

Operators are not required to close swimming lanes to facilitate physical distancing. However, operators should be proactive in mitigating the risk of congregation at the end of swimming lanes through proactive communication. Operators may consider additional lap lane signage to support this message.

Are change rooms permitted to be open?

Yes, change rooms may be open with capacity not exceeding one person per 4 square metres. Patrons are permitted to transit through indoor areas to access changing facilities.

Venues should take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in change rooms by:

  • Encouraging visitors to shower/change at home
  • Adopting good hygiene practices
  • Ensuring adequate supplies of soap, paper towels and hand dryers
  • Additional cleaning of change rooms and hard surfaces

Are cafes and kiosk permitted to be open?

Yes, cafes and kiosks are permitted to open but are only able to provide takeaway services. Venues should adopt a common-sense approach to minimise the gathering of customers. Some strategies may include:

  • Providing a limited menu to reduce service times
  • Requiring customers to place orders and wait outside or a locations where physical distancing is possible
  • Provide a contactless collection point for orders
  • Ensure customers do not congregate in groups whilst waiting for their order

Are venues permitted to sell swimwear and merchandise?

Retail operations are restricted to click and collect. This may include essential over the counter sales of swimming equipment with venues adopting a common-sense approach. Note, that browsing and trying of swimwear, goggles or accessories should not be permitted.

Are customers and visitors required to check-in using the Service NSW app?

Yes, all customers and visitors are required to check in using the Service NSW app. Venues should have processes in place to ensure customers have checked in, such as asking to see the ‘green tick’.

Should a person be unable to check in via the Service NSW app, the business should have an alternate means of collecting contact information including the name, contact number and entry time. If a person is unable to provide contact details, for example due to age or language barriers, another person may provide contact details on their behalf. Check-in information is to be kept for a period of at least 28 days.

How do COVID-19 Safety Plans apply to swimming pools in regional and rural NSW not under stay-at-home rules?

Pools located in regional and rural NSW, without stay-at-home rules, have been able to be open since Saturday 11 September 2021. These swimming pools must operate in accordance with the COVID-19 Safety Plan included in the Safety Plan for gyms, indoor recreation facilities, swimming pools, community centres and halls.

You can access the COVID-19 Safety Plan at the following link: