Administration grants swimming pools 60-day reprieve

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The Department of Justice has extended the deadline for public pools to come into compliance with the Obama administration’s new rules mandating the installation of ramps and wheelchair lifts to make facilities accessible to people with disabilities.

The 60-day extension comes in the wake of industry concern over the requirements — intended to go into effect yesterday — that could have opened facilities without lifts and ramps up to lawsuits for violating the the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The rules stem from revised regulations under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). President Obama announced the new rules on the 20th anniversary of the ADA, July 26, 2010.

“People with disabilities should have the opportunity to participate in American society as fully and equally as those without disabilities,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement on Thursday. “The department encourages businesses and governments around the country to help break down barriers for people with disabilities so that we give every individual access to equal opportunity and equal justice.”

The hotel and pool industry has been in a scramble to come into compliance. USA Today reported that as Thursday approached, some had taken to considering entire pool closings.

“I’m talking to hotel (representatives) who are thinking about closing their pools until the confusion is settled,” Todd Seiders, director of risk mangement for hotel insurer Petra Risk Solutions, told USA Today. “This is the first time in the past several months that my clients have expressed that closing the pool is an option.”

South Carolina Republican Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham attempted to bring legislation forward to stop the regulations. The Washington Times reports that DeMint and Graham still intend to pass their legislation.

In the wake of the extension, the American Hotel & Lodging Association is advising its members to move forward with coming into compliance. The association intends to work with Congress and the White House for more clarifications.

“DOJ have been forced to admit they made a big overreach and are now retreating with a two-month delay on this unnecessary regulation,” Wesley Denton, a spokesman for DeMint, told The Washington Times.

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