Thursday, Donald Trump rolled out a three-phase procedure titled Opening Up America Again that will gradually ease the rules of social distancing in the United States allowing for normal life to resume.
In order for swimming to return to normal, gyms, pools, and spas will need to reopen and people will need to be allowed to meet in groups of 50 or more. While some training groups could work with the 10-person group limit currently in place–assuming they also have a facility–that small of a number would not be feasible for most swim teams, especially in regards to age group practices.
Before states can begin the three-phase reopening plan they must meet the following criteria:
Symptoms: [A] downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period AND [a] downward trajectory of covid-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
Cases: [A] downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period OR [a] downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).
Hospitals: Treat all patients without crisis care AND [a] robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.
Assuming states can meet these criteria, phase one will make only minor changes to the current social distancing practices with the exception that large venues (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) will be allowed to “operate under strict physical distancing protocols,” and gyms will be allowed to open “if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.” Schools and “organized youth activities” must remain closed during phase one, which could mean that swim practices will not be allowed to resume even though gyms are allowed to reopen.
Phase two will allow for schools and “organized youth activities” to reopen, which could be the green light for some swim teams, though some facilities may remain closed if operating costs outweigh rental revenue from swim teams. Furthermore, large venues will be allowed to operate under “moderate physical distancing protocols,” an easing of phase one’s “strict physical distancing” guidelines.
Phase three will ease restrictions even further by allowing large venues to operate under “limited physical distancing protocols.” Individuals will also be allowed to visit hospitals and senior living facilities once again, a concession not given during either phase one or phase two.
The precise timeline of these measures remains fluid as states must first meet the three criteria including a downward trajectory of reported illnesses over a 14-day period, a downward trajectory of positive tests, as well as an increased ability to treat all patients and test all who require testing.
Even as gyms reopen, many pools owned by schools and universities might remain closed, which could hinder the full-scale “reopening” of the summer swim season. Community-owned facilities and seasonal pools could open even as others remain shut down, potentially opening up practice opportunities for teams in the area, though some cities, such as Manhattan, Kansas, have decided to close all public swimming pools and cancel all summer programs for 2020. In addition to the 2020 swimming pool season, Manhattan (KS) has also canceled all remaining 2020 youth and adult sports leagues and recreation sponsored camps. Covington, Kentucky, will not be opening its public swimming pools for the summer of 2020.
USA Swimming stated Friday that it won’t sanction meets through at least May 31st. Swim teams began suspending practices in mid-March, meanwhile high school spring sports and many end-of-season competitions were cancelled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A study by Harvard University warned that some degree of social distancing might be necessary until 2022. A vaccine for COVID-19 has not yet been verified but could be ready for mass production as soon as autumn, though that is still months away at the earliest.