Outdoor public pools across NSW including those in Covid hotspots are reopening from Monday, with both vaccinated and unvaccinated swimmers welcome.
Swimmers will be faced with two-hour maximum time slots, while changing rooms will remain closed with only outdoor showers and accessible toilets in use.
Groups of five fully-vaccinated people are allowed in, while the un-vaccinated will be only permitted in groups of two - with a 'swim and go' policy meaning no one is allowed to stay and sunbake.
There was talk only fully-vaccinated locals would be allowed to swim at community pools similar to the 'picnic rule' where groups of five vaccinated adults can gather outdoors.
Even at Sunday's Covid press briefing premier Gladys Berejiklian said those over 18 wanting to attend public pools would need to be vaccinated.
But NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty later clarified that unvaccinated people would also be allowed to exercise at pools the same as in any other outdoor area.
He added the venues would need to have thorough COVID-safe plans in place.
Outdoor pools all over NSW (pictured, Cronulla) will be allowed to open from Monday for both unvaccinated and fully-vaccinated swimmer
RULES FOR SWIMMING POOL REOPENINGS
- Only outdoor pools permitted to open
- Two-hour visit limits
- Fully-vaccinated allowed in groups of five
- Unvaccinated swimmers only allowed in groups of two
- 'Swim and go' policy means no sun-lounging
'There are a range of other activities that can be done to keep people safe,' Mr McAnulty said.
'And outdoor pools are outdoors and by the nature of that, that's a much lower risk of transmission of COVID than indoors.'
Indoor pools and aquatic centres remain closed.
The 12 LGAs of concern Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield are included in the new outdoor pool rule.
Last week the mayors from each of the 12 council met with Ms Berejiklian to lobby for the reopening of pools, saying that they were being harshly treated compared to other areas.
Covid-safe measures that need to be implemented in the venues include physical distancing, ventilation, hygiene and cleaning procedures, and record keeping.
Perhaps the most famous community pool in the city, Icebergs at Bondi, will not reopen on Monday, however, with bosses saying it needed a little longer to ensure the venue had correct Covid procedures in place.
Sydneysiders swimming at Icebergs (pictured) in Bondi in mid-2021 just before the Delta variant outbreak swept through the city. Bondi Icebergs is still closed as bosses draw up Covid-safe plans
SYDNEY POOLS STAYING SHUT
Prairiewood Lesiure Centre - closed for renovations
Fairfield Leisure Centre - closed for renovations
Merrylands Swimming Centre - closed for Covid testing use
North Sydney Olympic Pool - closed while upgrades take place
Macarthur Girls High School Pool - closed pending health advice
City of Sydney:
Gunyama Park Aquatic Centre - closed for recommissioning
Bondi Icebergs - closed
The City of Sydney said its other pools such as Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool at Woolloomooloo would be open but unvaccinated visitors can only gather in groups of two.
Fully vaccinated visitors can follow the five person gathering rule, while changing rooms will remain shut.
In Canterbury-Bankstown, locals will need to book a one hour slot and vaccinations are 'encouraged'.
NSW has reported 961 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.
'We are seeing case numbers in southwest and western Sydney continue to have a downward trend but unfortunately in the Illawarra and Central Coast we are seeing more case numbers than we would like,' Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.
Greater Sydney has now been in lockdown for more than three months.