B&B proprietors demand leniency on pool regulations

Tzimmer owners from the North complain to Knesset State Control Committee that Health Ministry regulations are hurting tourism.

December 16, 2010 02:50
2 minute read.
MK Yoel Hasson

yoel hasson 88 224. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Owners of bed-and-breakfast guest houses (tzimmerim) complained to the Knesset State Control Committee on Wednesday that strict Health Ministry regulations regarding swimming pool facilities are forcing them to close them down, hurting tourism.

The owners, most of them from the North, told committee chairman MK Yoel Hasson that the strict regulations were relevant to large pools with masses of bathers, while those in tzimmerim were small – no more than 50 or 60 cubic meters – and had only a small number of bathers at a time.

Hasson, who has already discussed the matter with Health and Interior ministry officials, said guests were vital to the economy and to the income of owners. Tzimmerim bring in NIS 1 billion in direct income and NIS 2.5b. more in indirect income a year.

Shmuel Golan, deputy director-general of the State Comptroller’s Office, stressed that a business license for guestrooms was vital to ensure the safety of customers, as many were made of wood so fire extinguishing equipment was needed, and food preparation had to be supervised.

“Some of the regional councils didn’t even know about dozens of pools operating in their area,” he said.

Ya’acov Rosenwasser, a representative of some 500 guest house owners, said the “regulations turn us into criminals. They require that our pools have a security man at the entrance, a receptacle for suspicious objects, a cabinet for keeping personal property, lockers, resuscitation equipment and a lifeguard.

Pools are closed down if they don’t meet these standards,” he said, even though they are relevant for large public pools – but municipal and kibbutz pools get five years to make arrangements.

The owners’ lawyer, Avital Horef, said B&Bs with three units or more, each with at least three rooms and 40 square meters in size, were required to have business licenses, but there was no definition for private pools.

The Health Ministry’s environmental health supervisor, Zeev Fisch, said it was not true that large and small pools must meet the same standards.

Pools of up to 15 cubic meters were called “small,” but most guest houses’ pools were several times larger. The strict regulations, Fisch said, were to prevent poisonings, diseases, parasites and the transfer of disease. Israel’s pools were among the most advanced and healthy in the world because of the standards, he said.

Hasson suggested the ministry change its regulations and classify them according to how many and how often people used them and not according to size, but the ministry said this was variable and could not be supervised.

He summed up by saying he agreed that health standards should be enforced but “the owners should be helped. Find the right balance, and don’t ignore reality.”

He asked the Health, Tourism and Interior ministries to reach a compromise within two months.

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