COVID-19 and the Mikvah: Recommended Protocols

Published on April 2, 2020

Protocols:

1. Strict screening of Mikvah staff and visitors for any symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19.

All Mikvah staff and users will be orally screened before being allowed to enter the Mikvah (see screening questions below).

Only women who are symptom-free may work in or use the Mikvah. If a woman is symptom-free but has been exposed to someone with the virus or someone under investigation for having the virus, she may not work in or use the Mikvah for 14 days following that exposure.

If she has been ordered to be under self-quarantine for any other reason, she may not work in or use the Mikvah.

Screening questions

  • During the last 14 days, have you had contact with anyone who has lab-confirmed COVID-19, is under investigation for COVID-19, or is hospitalized or being treated at home for a respiratory or febrile illness
  • Have you had any of the following symptoms in the past 14 days?
    • Fever or chills
    • Unexplained cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat
    • Pneumonia/flu symptoms
    • Loss of smell or change in the sense of taste
    • Diarrhea
    • Tiredness, aches
    • Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the above questions may not enter the Mikvah facility under any circumstances.

2. Strict implementation of social distancing protocols, ensuring no close human contact during the entire Mikvah visit.

  1. Appointments must be scheduled to allow proper spacing of appointments to minimize exposure.
  2. All preparations must be completed at home before coming to the Mikvah.
  3. Upon arrival at the Mikvah parking lot, the user must call the receptionist for screening (even if previously completed online when the appointment was scheduled). The receptionist will notify the user when it is time for her to enter.
  4. To minimize contamination risk, all users should leave their pocketbooks and other unnecessary items at home or in their cars.
  5. Payment for Mikvah visit or Bedikah cloths should be done online or by mail. No cash or credit card transactions will take place at the Mikvah.
  6. Users should be directed to a freshly-sanitized preparation room to change for Tevila. No showers or baths should be permitted at the Mikvah under any circumstances. All robes and towels will be provided at the Mikvah. The Mikvah should continue to provide individually-packaged, single-use, disposable slippers. Users should not bring their own towels/robes/slippers.
  7. All other preparation items should be removed from the room.
  8. All users should check themselves prior to entering the Mikvah pool. Inspection of back, etc should be done from a distance of at least six feet.
  9. Personal touch between the Mikvah Attendant and users is absolutely prohibited.
  10. No personal property is to remain at the Mikvah. Any property left at the Mikvah will be promptly discarded.
  11. Although not usually Halachically advised, during the current pandemic a woman should shower when arriving home.
  12. All users should be strongly encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with soap before leaving the preparation room to return home. Users should not use sinks outside the preparation rooms.
  13. On Friday night, users should be instructed to maintain a safe distance from other users. The attendant will let users into the building and will immediately send the user to the sanitized preparation room. Women should not wait for one another to leave the Mikvah to walk home.

3. Strict implementation of maximal hygienic standards for attendants and for cleaning of surfaces and rooms before and between visitors.

  1. Attendants must wear gloves at all times while on Mikvah premises. Gloves should be removed and disposed of after each user.
  2. Proper handwashing with soap and water should be performed for at least 20 seconds between users. Hand sanitizer is not to be used in place of soap and water.
  3. All attendants must be trained on proper handwashing and use of gloves.
  4. Masks are not required at this time.
  5. Women with medical conditions or age which would result in more severe disease should consider whether they wish to remain on the Mikvah staff at this time.
  6. The preparation rooms, bathrooms, Cheder haTevila (immersion room), Mikvah steps (where the water does not reach) and other areas of the Mikvah must be fully cleaned and disinfected between users by the on-site cleaning staff.
  7. No user will be allowed to use a preparation room or Cheder Hatevila that has not been fully cleaned and disinfected.
  8. Preparation rooms should be emptied of all but bare essential items. Ample soap must be available in all areas and frequent handwashing should be encouraged.
  9. Knobs, faucets, and other spots that are touched often should be disinfected thoroughly.

4. Strict maintenance of proper chlorination levels in the actual bath, per CDC guidelines.

The Mikvah water and filtration system shall be maintained with proper chlorination/bromination levels at all times and chemical levels will be checked daily. This will ensure the safety of Tevila as Coronavirus will be effectively destroyed by chlorine/bromine and filtration.

According to the CDC, no traces of COVID-19 have been detected in drinking water, and there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through pools or hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection will remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. For more information, visit the CDC website.

Text for protocols to be shared by Mikva’ot with users and staff:

FOR USERS:

The following points summarize the guidelines for Mikvah users:

All Mikvah users will be orally screened before being allowed to enter the Mikvah (see screening questions below).

Only women who are symptom-free may use the Mikvah. If a woman is symptom-free but has been exposed to someone with the virus or someone under investigation for having the virus, she may not use the Mikvah for 14 days following that exposure. If she has been ordered to be under self-quarantine for any other reason, she may not use the Mikvah.

  1. Appointments must be scheduled to allow proper spacing of appointments to minimize exposure.
  2. All preparations must be completed at home before coming to the Mikvah.
  3. Upon arrival at the Mikvah parking lot, she must call the receptionist for screening (even if previously completed online when the appointment was scheduled). The receptionist will notify her when it is time to enter.
  4. To minimize contamination risk, she should leave her pocketbooks and other unnecessary items at home or in her car.
  5. Payment for Mikvah visit or Bedikah cloths should be done online or by mail. No cash or credit card transactions will take place at the Mikvah.
  6. Users will be directed to a freshly-sanitized preparation room to change for Tevila. No showers or baths are permitted at the Mikvah under any circumstances. All robes and towels will be provided at the Mikvah. The Mikvah should continue to provide individually-packaged, single-use, disposable slippers. Users should not bring their own towels/robes/slippers. All other preparation items should be removed from the room. On-site staff will fully clean and disinfect any room that will need to be reused.
  7. No user will be allowed to use a preparation room that has not been fully cleaned and disinfected.
  8. It is critical that she wash her hands thoroughly in the preparation room before heading to the Cheder Tevila (immersion room).
  9. Mikvah attendants will wear gloves at all times and will perform handwashing and put on a fresh pair between users. Masks are not required at this time. A six-foot distance will be maintained between the attendant and user.
  10. The attendant must allow the cleaning staff to disinfect the immersion room between users.
  11. All users should check themselves prior to entering the Mikvah pool. Inspection of back, etc should be done from a distance of at least six feet. Personal touch between the Mikvah Attendant and users is absolutely prohibited.
  12. All laundry must be taken home with the user. No personal property is to remain at the Mikvah. Any property left at the Mikvah will be promptly discarded.
  13. Although not usually Halachically advised, during the current pandemic a woman should shower when arriving home.
  14. All users are strongly encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with soap before leaving the preparation room to return home.
  15. On Friday night, users must maintain a safe distance from other users. The attendant will let the users into the building and will immediately send the user to the sanitized preparation room. Women should not wait for one another to leave the Mikvah to walk home.

All of the Mikvah pools are filtered and chlorinated/brominated, and chemical levels are checked daily to ensure the safety of the water. According to the CDC, no traces of COVID-19 have been detected in drinking water, and there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through pools or hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection will remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. For more information, visit the CDC website.

Screening questions (for users)

  1. During the last 14 days, have you had contact with anyone who has lab-confirmed COVID-19, is under investigation for COVID-19, or is hospitalized or being treated at home for a respiratory or febrile illness
  2. Have you had any of the following symptoms in the past 14 days?
    • Fever or chills
    • Unexplained cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat
    • Pneumonia/flu symptoms
    • Loss of smell or change in the sense of taste
    • Diarrhea
    • Tiredness, aches

Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the above questions may not enter the Mikvah facility under any circumstances.

Guidelines for Mikvah Staff

I. Attendants

  • Any attendant with symptoms of illness (including, but not limited to, fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or change in sense of taste) should not work in the Mikvah and should consult her personal physician for guidance.
  • All attendants should answer the screening questions below before beginning their shifts (Section III). The Mikvah Director will review the questionnaire each evening and call in a replacement attendant in case an attendant has symptoms of illness or concern for infection identified by screening.
  • Attendants must wear gloves at all times while on Mikvah premises. Gloves should be removed and disposed of after each user. Proper handwashing with soap and water should be performed for at least 20 seconds between users. Hand sanitizer should not be used in place of soap and water.
  • All attendants must be trained on proper handwashing and use of gloves.
  • Masks are not required at this time.
  • Women with medical conditions or age which would result in more severe disease should consider whether they wish to remain on the Mikvah staff at this time

II. Mikvah Disinfection Protocols

  • The preparation rooms, bathrooms, Cheder haTevila (immersion room), Mikvah steps (where the water does not reach) and other areas of the Mikvah should be disinfected between users.
  • The Mikvah water and filtration system shall be maintained with proper chlorination/bromination levels at all times and chemical levels will be checked daily. This will ensure the safety of Tevila as Coronavirus will be effectively destroyed by chlorine/bromine and filtration.
  • No user will be allowed to use a preparation room that has not been fully cleaned and disinfected. Preparation rooms will be fully cleaned and disinfected between users by the on-site cleaning staff.
  • Preparation rooms should be emptied of all but bare essential items. Ample soap must be available in all areas and frequent handwashing should be encouraged.
  • Knobs, faucets, and other spots that are touched often should be disinfected thoroughly.
  • If the Mikvah provided linens or for Friday night Tevila, routine laundry cleaning of the towels and robes is acceptable. Those handling dirty towels should wear gloves. After handling laundry, gloves should be disposed of and hands should be washed thoroughly.

III. Screening Protocols

A. All attendants and receptionists must answer these questions prior to beginning a shift. The Mikvah Director will review these staff questionnaires prior to the start of the shift and will arrange for replacements if the answer is “yes” to any of the screening questions.

B. Screening of the cleaning staff will be performed daily.

C. All users must answer these questions prior to using the Mikvah. These screening questions should be answered before scheduling an appointment and must be answered again at the time of the appointment:

Screening questions for users, attendants and cleaning staff:

  1. During the last 14 days, have you had contact with anyone who has lab-confirmed COVID-19,
    is under investigation for COVID-19, or is hospitalized or being treated at home for a respiratory or febrile illness?
  2. Have you had any of the following symptoms in the past 14 days?
    • Fever or chills
    • Unexplained cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat
    • Pneumonia/flu symptoms
    • Loss of smell or change in the sense of taste
    • Diarrhea
    • Tiredness, aches.

Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the above questions may not enter the Mikvah facility under any circumstances.