Swimmers are understandably hot under the collar with public swimming pools unable to reopen today as scheduled. Contrary to an earlier announcement by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, officials overseeing the city’s recreational facilities said the 38 pools would only be ready for use between May 12 and 16. Coming after a series of blunders in fighting the fifth wave of Covid-19, this may appear minor, but it again underlines the inertia and lack of coordination within the government. The reopening of water sports facilities ahead of the relaxation of other restrictions in the second phase, starting on May 19, was meant to give people some early respite from the heat and ensure the Lam administration received some good publicity following the fifth-wave debacle. But it has only achieved the opposite, with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department saying pools will reopen gradually, citing the need for filtration, sterilisation and water quality testing to ensure hygiene and safety. It means some pools will open just three days earlier than planned. Will ‘zero Covid’ mean zero Siobhan Haugheys? HK swim coach slams pool closures It remains unclear whether Lam had been briefed on the logistics of reopening pools when she made her announcement on Tuesday morning. We trust she would have tried to better manage public expectations had she known such preparations would take at least nine days. Regrettably, the department did not seek to clarify the situation until late on Tuesday night, with the latest reopening details buried in a media statement some 12 hours after Lam had spoken on the matter. Without any knowledge of swimming pool operations, the public is not in any position to say whether the latest delay is justified. But 13 days does seem a very long time to reopen all pools. In any case, the three-stage relaxation of Covid curbs was announced as early as March, and the department should have been preparing in advance of Lam’s comments. Lawmakers have talked about the need to fix the civil service in the wake of the confusion and delays in tackling the Covid crisis. The swimming pools fiasco surely adds to a long list of failures that reflects problems with decisions and their implementation.