Memorial Day weekend for some is the start of beach season – or lake season, or pool season – but this year things may look different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local private pools are opening up for members, but with restrictions.
The pool at Fermata Club in Aiken is open to members from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, and is taking new memberships. The club is allowing 40 members at a time to enjoy the pool, with visits limited to 90 minutes.
Paige Rabon, a member of the board of directors at the Fermata Club, said the club usually has a big Memorial Day picnic, and it’s one of the largest celebrations of the year, but that won’t be going on this year.
“Everybody’s just very happy to get to go to the pool," Rabon said. "Everybody’s just thrilled that they can go to the pool and have been very happy to comply.”
Other guidelines Fermata has put in place include extra cleaning, observing social distancing and not allowing the sharing of pool toys.
Another extra step is having two lifeguards on duty each day.
Kinsey Amos, a lifeguard at the Fermata Club, said usually during the pool season there’s only one lifeguard on a shift at a time.
“This summer … during the corona stuff, we have two guards. We’ll have one sitting at the door counting people as they walk in, making sure people clean their chairs after they leave, and we have one on the stand. The two guards do rotate every 45 minutes,” Amos said.
Rabon said having the pool open is a great way to ease up on social distancing and being cooped up indoors.
State parks, including the Aiken State Park in Windsor, have been open since May 1, with some extra rules and guidelines.
Aaron Chavous, park manager for the Aiken State Park, said it is going to look a little different for visitors there this weekend.
“We will be booked to capacity as far as our camping spots, which is to be expected on a holiday weekend,” Chavous said.
So far, the response to changes at the state park has been “overwhelmingly great,” he said.
He said the park has been following guidelines from the office of Gov. Henry McMaster, as well as the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Centers for Disease Control.
Chavous said with this being a holiday weekend, it’s time for people to come together and enjoy each other.
“Take time and enjoy the holiday weekend, but also take time to slow down and think about the guidelines and make sure to respect other people’s space as well as they respect your own,” he said.
Playgrounds, picnic shelters and community buildings are closed at state parks, and park admission can be purchased online. If you wish to paddle, you must bring your own canoe, kayak, paddleboard or Jon boat.
Boating restrictions on beaching and rafting of boats were lifted by McMaster, and law enforcement will be patrolling water ways to ensure safe operation, according to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Hammond Hill Suburban Club in North Augusta will be opening June 1, allowing 60 people for the morning session and 60 people for the afternoon session.
The Aiken County Family YMCA is planning to open its pools on June 1, as well. Richardson's Lake Water Park and Outdoor Recreation Area is not open as of Friday, May 22.
Restrictions on South Carolina beaches have been lifted by the governor with social distancing being observed.