Following months of hard work by AH&LA and the lodging industry, the Department of Justice (DOJ) last night announced a substantial postponement of the ADA compliance date for existing pools and spas with ADA requirements for accessible entries. The new compliance date – January 31, 2013 – is more than an additional nine months beyond the original date of March 15, 2012.
DOJ found that the delay will allow the Department to “continue to educate covered entities about their obligations under the 2010 Standards…and to address misunderstandings that could lead covered entities to take unnecessary and counterproductive steps….” The DOJ had received over 1,400 comments urging additional time to comply with this requirement outweighing the nearly 500 comments opposing any extension.
The DOJ specifically noted three areas of concern resulting from misunderstandings. First, some operators took steps to comply with the entry requirements based on false understandings. Second, many operators were having difficulty in finding an adequate supply of pool lifts. Third, some operators were considering closing pools when it may not be warranted. For these reasons, the DOJ concluded a delay in the compliance was necessary. DOJ noted that this delay does not affect pool and spas that are under construction or are being altered. The fixed lift requirement applies now to pools and spas being constructed or altered.
This extension is a direct result of the groundswell of action from hoteliers who wrote and met with their members of Congress to discuss the lodging industry’s common sense solutions. Thank you for your effort, which resulted in overwhelming Congressional support and forced DOJ to re-examine the unreasonable compliance deadline. This issue clearly demonstrates the collective strength of the lodging industry.
The announcement by DOJ does not change the substance of DOJ’s “fixed” lift requirement. In retaining this requirement, DOJ did not address concerns raised by AH&LA and the lodging industry such as the increased liability associated with making lifts permanently available when life guards are not present, sharing of lifts between multiple pools and spas, or the extensive construction and electrical bonding work needed to install fixed lifts.
For a full description of the DOJ’s extension, click here.
AH&LA continues to support efforts to provide entry to pools and spas for all travelers and will seek measures that will ensure the safety of all guests. For AH&LA’s Myth v. Fact on this issue, click here.