With the Galt Gators’ season canceled and the opening date for public swim delayed from the typical Memorial Day Weekend opening, the Gora Aquatic Center opened July 1 with a new swim schedule and limited capacity.
“There is a COVID reopening plan by the Sacramento County Health Department and everything that we’ve done has been approved by them,” said Armando Solis, director of Galt’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Patrons will notice many safety measures have been put in place. Gator heads have been painted on the concrete every six to eight feet to show the proper social distancing that needs to be respected. When not in the pool, everyone is required to wear a mask, with the exception of the lifeguard on duty. Staffing has been adjusted to accommodate additional cleaning measures.
“The staff has been great,” Galt Parks and Recreation’s Recreation Supervisor Monica Lopez said. “They really wanted to come back to work … They’ve done really well with the masks. They’ve done well with the cleaning. I haven’t had any complaints or any pushback from the staff.”
The water slide, however, will remain closed as it has been determined that there is no way to constantly and consistently sanitize it and the rails leading to the top.
In addition, the total number of people at the Gora Aquatic Center, whether in the pool or not, is limited to 272 people and, so far, the number of patrons hasn’t come anywhere near that limit. Lopez estimates between 70 and 90 people come during weekdays and upwards of 100 on the weekends, with the busiest day so far seeing around 160 people. Over the course of the summer, this has meant and will continue to mean a drastic drop in income for the center.
“If we hit capacity every day, we would still lose money with the additional COVID restriction and cleaning, and the lower attendance,” Solis said. “We were hoping not to lose as much money as we did, but even during regular times, it’s still a money loss. It’s a service we’re providing to the public.”
Several different swim lesson sessions are currently being offered and, prior to classes starting, the pools are open on a first come, first served basis for laps. In the afternoons, the pool is open for public swim Monday through Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m.
“I think people are afraid to come out to some degree, but those who do are very thankful that we have it and they come out and see what we’re doing for them to keep them safe and keep our staff safe,” Lopez said. “They’re very appreciative and enjoy their time at the facility.”
Solis echoed the sentiment.
“I know there are people concerned that we’re open, but we’re taking every precaution and this plan for reopening has been vetted by the Sacramento County Health Department,” Solis said.