It’s that time of year when common interest communities across Minnesota are starting to open pools and other outdoor amenities. On Friday, June 5, Governor Tim Walz announced Phase III of the Stay Safe MN plan, including a gradual turn of the dial to allow cautious and safe re-opening of certain venues and facilities.
Under Phase III of the Stay Safe MN plan, limited re-opening of the following facilities can begin on Wednesday, June 10 subject to certain social distancing and occupancy restrictions. The portions of Phase III most applicable to homeowners associations include:
Indoor social gatherings can take place with 10 people or fewer;
Outdoor social gatherings can take place with 25 people or fewer; and
Pools may be opened, provided that capacity is reduced to permit 6 feet of social distance between swimmers, up to a maximum 50% capacity.
Associations’ Boards of Directors may choose to either open their pool or not, as that decision is well within the Board’s discretionary powers. However, if the Association opts to re-open the pool, then it must adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that generally conforms to the template set forth by the state.
An association’s Preparedness Plan should address the following issues: (1) how the pool will be secured to prevent access; (2) how often the pool will be cleaned; (3) what the capacity limit will be – again, subject to the 50% capacity cap; (4) how it will ensure adequate social distancing within the pool area and related facilities; (5) how capacity limits and access will be monitored; and (6) what signage will be posted.
Associations without active lifeguards or other pool supervisors should specifically address how it will monitor and enforce capacity limits. If an association intends to allow the Owners to self-monitor – i.e., the honor system – it should nevertheless be prepared to respond to homeowners who disobey the capacity and/or social distancing rules. To that end, we recommend distributing the Preparedness Plan to the homeowners with a cover letter advising them in writing of the capacity limits and social distancing requirements for pool usage, and notifying them that any reported violation will result in a fine, subject to their right to be heard by the board before the fine is imposed.
The attorneys at Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC have extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of community association law, and we would be happy to assist your association in drafting a Preparedness Plan that conforms to the Minnesota Department of Health requirements. Please contact our office today!
Karly Kauf – Attorney @ Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC