The Victorian Government has backflipped on a ‘nonsensical’ virus rule as troubling photos of backyard pools emerge.
The Swimming Pool and Spa Association released photos as it continued its fight for pool technicians to be allowed to service backyard pools as coronavirus restrictions eased.
As new daily cases drop in the state, with just seven reported on Friday, gardeners were again allowed to mow lawns and trim bushes outside while the swimming pool industry was being left behind despite being able to do their job while social distancing solely in a backyard.
Photos from SPASA of festering pool water were released as a warning to owners about the dangers of not getting them cleaned, while also urging the government to reconsider the rule.
After lobbying the government through open letters to allow swimming pool technicians to enter people’s backyard, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed to Yahoo News Australia they will now be allowed to.
One photo provided to Yahoo News Australia shows water in a backyard pool had turned completely brown, with sticks and debris floating on the surface. A number of other pools had gone completely green or cloudy with algae blanketing the bottom.
The photos come after SPASA Victoria CEO Chris Samartzis claimed the rule didn’t make sense as water borne pathogens lurking in neglected pools posed a danger to residents.
“It’s not so much that you can’t yourself throw salt in there, it’s about getting the pH balance correct,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“The main issue is cryptosporidium – it can cause enormous health issues.”
According to a fact sheet released by the Victorian Government of Health and Human Services, cryptosporidium can cause profuse, watery diarrhoea with cramping and abdominal pain, fever and vomiting.
‘An enormous task ahead’
While SPASA chief operating officer Spiros Dassakis welcomed the news pool services were now included under essential maintenance in Victoria, he said the job at hand was now to undo the damage.
“The maintenance regime for these swimming pools is an enormous task ahead,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
With about 370,000 pools in Victoria, Mr Dassakis said they would have to start bringing dangerous and parasite-ridden pools and spas back from the brink.
“When swimming pools are left unattended, it’s not a question of throwing chemicals into pools, you need to ensure a sanitisation system,” he said.
He added it could take three to five days to bring a backyard pool back to its former glory and safe to swim in, with clarity, algae and debris issues in urgent need of addressing.
“The job is extraordinarily large,” he said.
Earlier this week the pool industry was fighting the government to be allowed to tend to backyard pools, as Premier Daniel Andrews reiterated only emergency repairs and gardening and landscaping would be allowed.
“Emergency repairs can take place at occupied properties. That means no interior design, no renovations if the property is occupied,” he said.
“Gardening and landscaping services by sole traders are allowed, as long as it’s contactless and can be done safely alone and it can also occur on an occupied property, given the nature of that work. It is, indeed, outside.”
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said businesses that provided maintenance for safety and upkeep of public and recreational spaces were permitted to operate in metropolitan Melbourne.
Pool cleaning and maintenance services for pools or spas at a private residence can only take place for urgent, emergency residential repair and maintenance or where work relates to the health and safety of homeowners.
“We’ll continue meeting with industry and listening to businesses, so we can do everything we can to support them and their workers as we work together to reach a Covid-normal sooner,” a department spokesperson said.
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