The Justice Department promised Thursday to be “flexible” in enforcing new rules ordering public pools to pay for lifts or ramps for the disabled — backing away from what some pool operators had said was an invitation to a flood of lawsuits against small businesses.
The Washington Times reported that it marked the latest retreat for the department, which earlier this year ruled the Americans With Disabilities Act applied to pools open to the public, such as community recreation centers and hotels, which would have to invest in elevators, lifts or ramps in order to accommodate the disabled.
But with the March compliance deadline looming and members of Congress threatening action, the Justice Department issued an initial delay, and earlier this month extended the stay into next year. On Thursday, the department went further, saying the rules apply chiefly to new pools, while existing pools will only need to comply if it’s easy and cheap to do so.
“Readily achievable means that it is easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense,” the department said. “This is a flexible, case-by-case analysis, with the goal of ensuring that ADA requirements are not unduly burdensome, including to small businesses.”
The reprieve came just before the Memorial Day weekend, which marks the traditional opening day for many outdoor pools.
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