Things to Do

Public Pools Are Opening Memorial Day Weekend. Is it Safe to Go?

A few precautions might be in order.

Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole in Reston. Photo courtesy of Water Mine.

There was so much we didn’t know about the transmission of Covid last summer, and, out of an abundance of caution, public pools and waterparks in this region did not open.

This year is different: Most pools and waterparks are open. But, if your kids aren’t vaccinated, should you go?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: “CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes Covid-19 spreading to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds, or other treated aquatic venues.” Also encouraging, according to the CDC: “Proper operation and disinfection of pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes Covid-19.”

Those still worried about crowds at public pools may not be swimming in other options this summer (unless you’ve got a friend with pool). Some hotels that normally offer day passes are limiting access to overnight guests, although some—such as the Omni Shoreham—are offering memberships.

Then there are waterparks, which are taking precautions. At SplashDown in Manassas, Atlantis in Centreville, and Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole in Reston, they are requiring face masks when not in the water (at least as of press time), encouraging social distancing, and stepping up cleaning.

What else might ease your risk—and mind?

* Arrive with your swimsuit already on, to minimize time in a locker room.

* Take a shower before you leave home, and shower when you get home.

* Don’t wear a cloth mask when in the pool. “A wet cloth mask can make it difficult to breathe and likely will not work correctly,” advises the CDC. “This means it is particularly important to maintain social distancing when in the water.”

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.