Updated: 17 May 2020
Decisions need to be made locally about whether to open a cooling centre during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will depend on factors such as the law, the availability of staff and the ability to ensure physical distancing guidelines are followed. Staying at home instead of using the public/local cooling centres may compromise health for vulnerable groups during heatwaves.
Allow the public (in particular vulnerable people) to use cooling and hydration facilities to limit negative heat-stress effects without compromising COVID-19 guidelines (physical distancing/cleaning of water bottles/cooling pools or other shared facilities). Ensure that cooling centres are safe and develop and implement communication strategies specific to preventing COVID-19 in cooling centres using information from trusted sources such as local or national health authorities or the WHO.
Options for modifying the cooling centre network might include opening only select cooling center locations in highly vulnerable parts of the community, maximizing the use of outdoor cool spaces, or increasing at-home cooling via energy utility assistance.