As more states and local governments move toward lifting or easing shelter-in-place and social distancing guidelines, community associations have become faced with the very real prospect of needing a plan in place to address the reopening of amenities. Residents are becoming increasingly restless under stay-at-home state orders; naturally, they desire to use their community association’s recreational amenities. Restoring access to these amenities is a priority for many communities right now, and we want to provide your community with the knowledge and information to handle this situation effectively.
**In preparing to reopen amenity areas, it is recommended that the board of directors review all updated CDC Guidelines, as well as local and state orders/restrictions, additionally the board should consult with the associations legal counsel with regards to associated risks and protocols specifically necessary to reopen the pool.**
As we see with many states and even federal guidelines, a phased approach to reopening your community is likely the best possible solution. Provided that your state and local laws are allowing or requiring you to restore access, it’s a good idea to evaluate what a phased process will look like in your neighborhood specifically. Condominium communities may still require a strict social distancing or mask policy, whereas some single-family communities may not need to be as strict on those items. Active-Adult and retirement communities have some unique guidelines from the CDC as well. Every community can practice safety when reopening, but what that plan is for your community should be tailored for your individual needs. We have a few guidelines and tips for reopening that you can access via our Free Phased Reopening Amenities Guide.
One of the first things that any association board should consider is which contracts they need to review and look into their liability insurance policies to determine any potential risks. While many insurance policies make exemptions for situations where injuries occur because of a virus, it's essential to review your plan with your provider to ensure that you limit liability where possible. Understanding the board's fiduciary responsibility in the event of an insurance claim is important, even more so during this unique situation where many communities are finding themselves in need of more counseling on their role.
Opening up will look different depending on what type of community amenities you have and how many owners are using them regularly. Cleaning the common areas and frequently touched surfaces in any communal space will be extremely important. Many associations have standard cleaning services for these amenities, but you may need to seek out a disinfecting specialist. The recommendation is that communities consider using a licensed third-party provider for these disinfection services. Additionally, the CDC website has some useful guidelines for disinfecting surfaces and information on what your state's current laws are requiring the reopening of specific areas.
Communication with your homeowners and between the board and management company is vital during this time. Residents need to know that the association cannot guarantee that no one will get sick or that the premises are COVID-19 free. Many residents will have questions about the process. Therefore, it is encouraged that all boards enact a plan that includes letting residents know what the priorities are and what their responsibilities may be during the cleaning and reopening phases. CAI can be an excellent resource for your community as well during this time with their guides and information about reopening your community.
No matter what choices or decisions your board makes, it’s important to communicate clearly and directly with your owners and service providers. Follow all state and local guidelines to keep your community safe and consult with your management company and other experts who can help assist in the process.
*It is important to note that RealManage, LLC is not a primary source of information and guidelines related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our goal is to provide information as it relates to Community Associations and we attempt to provide the most accurate data possible at the time of posting, but for more up-to-date and primary resources we recommend you visit Centers For Disease Control or World Health Organization.