Phase 4 and What It Means for Amenity Areas in Chicago Area Condominium and Community Associations

Phase 4 and What It Means for Amenity Areas in Chicago Area Condominium and Community Associations

​As the City of Chicago and the rest of Illinois prepare to enter Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan on June 26, 2020, condominium associations and other common interest communities willing to assume the health and liability risks can reopen some of their amenity areas, subject to various restrictions (e.g., reduced occupancy, social distancing, face masks, frequent cleaning) and recommended procedures (e.g., reduced hours of operation, health screening of users, and use by reservation). However, there are important differences between the guidance issued by the State of Illinois and that issued by the City of Chicago for Phase 4.

Guidance

On June 22, 2020, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Business Opportunity (the “State”) issued a set of Guidelines for Phase 4 activity, and the City of Chicago (the “City”) updated its “Be Safe” guidance for residential buildings and health/fitness activities in Phase 4. As of June 22, 2020, the Illinois Department of Public Health had not yet issued Phase 4 guidelines for swimming pools. Recommendations continue to evolve along with the COVID-19 pandemic, and this Alert is based on guidance available as of June 22, 2020.

Indoor Fitness Centers

Capacity Limits. According to the City, indoor fitness centers may reopen at up to 25 percent of normal capacity. However, the State’s guidance for indoor fitness centers allows for up to 50 percent capacity. Capacity should be determined on the basis of the occupancy limit sign issued by the Chicago Department of Buildings, and indoor fitness rooms within the City of Chicago should follow the 25 percent limit.

Distancing. A minimum of six feet between all individuals in all areas of the fitness center is required, as well as reconfiguring or disabling equipment to provide for six feet between all equipment. If impermeable physical barriers between equipment are installed, the equipment spacing requirement can be reduced to three feet.

Trainers. The Phase 4 guidance issued does not address outside trainers in residential fitness centers.

Signage. Signage promoting social distancing and policies should be posted.

Masks. The City requires users to wear face coverings while in the fitness center, even during indoor physical activity. The State encourages, but does not require, face coverings while exercising. The City’s more stringent requirement should be followed.

Cleaning. The City recommends cleaning between each use and nightly deep cleaning.

Reservations. If feasible, the City recommends use by a reservation system.

Health Screening. The State recommends taking the temperature of users, if practical. The City does not require taking users’ temperatures. All users should self-screen for symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19, and anyone who is sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not enter fitness centers.

Other. Water fountains should be turned off unless being used to refill personal water bottles. Locker rooms and showers can reopen with strict and frequent cleaning. Users should not share fitness equipment.

Sun Decks and Other Outdoor Amenity Areas

Capacity Limits. Up to fifty people at any time, so long as social distancing can be maintained.

Distancing. Users must practice social distancing with individuals not of the same household. Furniture should be rearranged and/or removed to maintain social distancing.

Signage. Signage promoting social distancing and policies should be posted.

Masks. The City requires face coverings, but allows masks to be removed while participating in outdoor physical activities. The State allows individuals to remove masks outdoors if able to adhere to social distancing of six feet. The more restrictive City guidelines should be followed for buildings located within the City of Chicago.

Cleaning. Maintain rigorous cleaning regimens. Clean furniture, grills and other frequently touched surfaces before and after each use.

Reservations. If feasible, the City recommends use of a reservation system.

Health Screening. All users should self-screen for symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19, and anyone who is sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not use outdoor amenity areas.

Swimming Pools

Capacity Limits. Per the City’s guidance, private indoor pools can reopen at 25 percent capacity, and private outdoor pools at the lesser of 50 percent capacity or 50 people. The Illinois Department of Public Health has not yet released its Phase 4 guidance on reopening pools, but capacity limits are expected to be similar. When pools have an adjacent sundeck, total capacity of the combined space should be limited to the lesser of 50 percent or 50 people, whether in the pool or on the pool deck.

Restrictions on Use. Unlike prior Illinois guidance for Phase 3, purely recreational use is now also permitted. 

Illinois Department of Public Health License. As always, an annual license is required before opening.

Distancing. Users must practice social distancing with individuals not of the same household. Rearrange and/or remove deck furniture to maintain social distancing.

Signage. Signage promoting social distancing and policies should be posted.

Masks. Individuals should not wear face masks while in the water due to the difficulty of breathing through a wet mask.

Saunas, Hot Tubs and Steam Rooms. These are to remain closed.

Cleaning. Neither the City nor the State has issued specific guidance on COVID-19-related cleaning procedures for pools in Phase 4. Associations should still implement frequent sanitizing and cleaning of high touch areas surrounding the pool, such as ladders, railings, chairs and other furniture.

Reservations. If feasible, the City recommends use of a reservation system.

Health Screening. All users should self-screen for symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19, and anyone who is sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not enter the pool area.

Indoor Amenity Rooms

Capacity Limits. Indoor amenity rooms such as community rooms, business centers or party rooms may reopen at the lesser of 25 percent capacity or 50 people.

Distancing. Users must practice social distancing with individuals not of the same household. Furniture should be rearranged and/or removed to maintain social distancing.

Signage. Signage promoting social distancing and policies should be posted.

Masks. The City requires face coverings to be worn by all persons for indoor amenity areas.

Cleaning. Deep cleaning of indoor amenity rooms should be conducted between reservations. Residents should also be encouraged to sanitize furniture, appliances, countertops and other frequently touched objects and surfaces before and after each use.

Reservations. If feasible, the City recommends use of a reservation system.

Health Screening. All users should self-screen for symptoms that may be indicative of COVID-19, and anyone who is sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not enter indoor amenity areas.

Further Considerations and Recommendations

In addition to guidance from the City and State, associations need to evaluate whether the health and liability risks outweigh the benefits of reopening some or all of their amenity areas. Associations with a large population of at-risk residents may prefer, and are permitted, to keep amenities closed or impose limitations more stringent than those contained in the City and State guidelines. Keeping amenity areas closed or further limiting their use would also be an option for any association that lacks sufficient personnel to enforce occupancy, masking and social distancing requirements, or cannot provide frequent cleaning. In addition, to limit exposure to legal liability, associations should require that all amenity area users sign a COVID-19 waiver and release by which the resident assumes the risk of using the association’s amenity areas.

The COVID-19 situation remains extremely fluid, and guidance from federal, state and local authorities changes frequently and often without warning. Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr will continue to monitor these matters and keep you informed. Please contact us with any questions about the content of this Alert or other condominium or community association concerns.
 

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