The U.S. Department of Justice has pushed back a deadline for hotels, motels and other lodging businesses to install handicap lifts by their pools and hot tubs by 60 days, with the possibility of pushing it back even further.
As I first reported last month, Maine hoteliers were concerned that the rule, which the DOJ had just recently clarified, would prove burdensome and impossible to comply with, given a short time frame.
In this letter from the DOJ, the agency says it is looking for comments on possibly extending the deadline for another six months.
The DOJ was pushed on this issue by several members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Collins wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that while she does “strongly support” the Americans with Disabilities Act and its goals, the demands the agency is making with regard to fixed lifts by pools and hot tubs represent “an unnecessary and onerous burden on myriad small hospitality businesses not only in Maine, but also across the country.”
These businesses all want to do the right thing by complying with the Act. But it is incumbent on the Department to ensure that it is not imposing costly unnecessary burdens, and that its regulations are clear and in line with common sense.
Consequently, I am requesting that the Department review its current lift guidance and make the following changes:
a) extend the compliance date for pool lifts for medium, small or family-owned businesses from March 15 to September 15 to give those businesses a reasonable opportunity to comply with the January 31 revised guidance;
b) allow the use of portable lifts, or shared lifts for adjacent pools, as long as such lifts are used in a manner which ensures the safety of the user and other guests; and
C) issue clearly articulated guidelines defining the criteria necessary to be granted an exemption to the lift requirement if “not readily feasible.”