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Why are many neighborhood pools still closed?

There's a risk of lawsuits due to COVID-19

ATLANTA — Families around metro Atlanta are wondering why their neighborhood pools haven’t opened despite the okay from Gov. Brian Kemp.

The CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through pool water. Last month, Gov. Kemp announced pools around Georgia could reopen with restrictions.

11Alive viewer Marcel Schlapfer says his neighborhood pool is still off-limits.

“The HOA board members state they’re at risk of personally being sued if someone contracts COVID-19,” says Schlapfer. “I’d like to know if this is a real possibility.”

Attorneys tell us it’s true that an HOA could face a lawsuit from someone who tests positive for COVID-19 after visiting a neighborhood pool.

RELATED: Can coronavirus spread in swimming pools? Here’s what you need to know

Winning that lawsuit is another thing.

“You have to prove the cause of the infection is as a result of going to the pool,” says attorney Tom Salata. “That’s going to be really hard to do.”

The problem is that even if an association wins a lawsuit, they’ll still have to pay an attorney to wage the court battle.

According to attorneys familiar with HOA laws, insurance is unlikely to cover that cost.

“All the cost of defending them is going to be paid by the association, which means by all the individual owners,” says attorney George Nowack.

In order to reopen, pool operators have to meet a long list of requirements. That includes screening workers for illness, limiting visitors to 25 or less, and keeping those visitors at least six-feet apart.

Attorney George Nowack says some HOA’s fear they’ll struggle to meet all of the requirements.

“Is it worth risking the damages that would occur if nothing else for attorney’s fees,” says Nowack.

Many are waiting to see what happens between now and July 12th when the Governor’s coronavirus state of emergency is set to expire.

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