Due to increased COVID-19 cases identified at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center, the city of Santa Maria will close the center effective at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30 to protect the staff and public from exposure.

About 20 percent of the lifeguard staff at the center have either tested positive or have been exposed to others who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

All city departments continue to follow county Public Health Department protocols during the pandemic.
“We are required by the County Health Order and the city’s Safety Plan to close the center, until at least Jan. 14, the quarantine period date,” said Dennis Smitherman, recreation services manager.

“It could be imperative for a lifeguard to provide lifesaving maneuvers, which include close or physical contact. Spreading the virus to/from our patrons is a risk we must avoid,” Smitherman said. “We need our community and staff to be safe. We thank them for their understanding and cooperation as we navigate the impacts of this pandemic.”

The Paul Nelson Aquatic Center, at at 600 S. McClelland St., reopened in July after a major renovation, and a temporary closure due to budget constraints and to meet COVID-19 safety protocols. Since July, the center has been open for limited lap swimming, fitness classes and Santa Maria Swim Club use. About 100 people per day use the center’s pool.

Staff will re-evaluate the pool closure and make recommendations for re-opening on Jan. 14. Direct questions to the recreation and parks manager, 805-925-0951 ext. 2263.