Thousands of Victorians are at risk of serious illness – even death – as family pools go untreated since the start of lockdown and become “breeding grounds” for waterborne parasites.
Poolwerx chief executive John O’Brien warned the pool service industry remained shut throughout the stage four lockdown – meaning pool owners had not had access to qualified pool technicians in at least seven weeks.
And with a warm spell of weather this weekend, Mr O’Brien urged Victorians to be cautious.
“We have still had no clarification whether, as an industry, we can send a technician to fix a pool or even open for water testing in store, ultimately leaving our clients and franchise partners completely in the dark,” he said.
“The bacterial health risk is also only one side of it – the physical and mental health benefits for locked-down families to enjoy recreation in their own backyard pools, where they don’t even have to leave home, is ultimately just as important.”
Mr O’Brien said untreated pools turn green and are like “breeding grounds” for waterborne parasites such as Legionella, Cryptosporidium and Giardia which can cause gastroenteritis, ear infections and, in severe cases, death among the very young and elderly.
“Incredibly, the Premier has deemed dog washing more important than human health, with commercial dog washing approved from September 23rd but not pool maintenance – bodies of water that Victorian people submerse in,” he said.
“We have the support of local councils who are terrified of the public health risk to domestic, public and commercial pools if forced to go untreated by the Government’s refusal.
“The only reason the Andrews’ Government could continue the ban on pool maintenance is the belief that ‘only the rich have pools’, which has been indicated to us as political thinking. Around 155,000 working Victorian families have pools – it’s the great Aussie dream, and warmer spring weather is already upon us.”
Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the gradual opening of businesses, saying “ false hope is no hope”.
“I know people are disappointed. I‘m disappointed too that we cannot open up faster. But the key point here is to open and stay open,” he said.
Under the state government’s road map recovery plan pool service workers can operate again in late September, subject to official health advice.