Many health clubs in California had begun reopening in June, but on July 13, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered gyms in 30 counties to close for an undetermined length of time.
The 30 counties in which gyms must close include all counties in Southern California as well as counties around Los Angeles. They account for 80 percent of the state’s population. The counties on this list have been on the county monitoring list for three consecutive days. Businesses must remain closed unless they can prove that they can be modified to operate outside or by pick up.
Other businesses such as restaurants, bars, movie theaters, zoos and museums were ordered closed in the entire state.
California reported 8,358 new cases of coronavirus on July 12 with hospitalizations increasing 28 percent in the past two weeks. Los Angeles has 10.2 million people with 35,827 new cases in the last 14 days for 349.3 cases per 100,000 people. It has had 504 new deaths in the past 14 days, according to the governor’s website.
Last week, IHRSA sent a letter to all 50 governors asking them not to shut down health clubs because no data shows that gyms are a source of COVID-19 spread. In fact, gyms have been open in countries such as Germany and Austria since May with no uptick in COVID-19 cases, according to this Wall Street Journal article. A two-week trial in Norway also found no cases from gym use.
California Fitness Alliance (CFA), a group of club operators in the state who organized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdowns, released this statement about the closure order:
“Although we are disappointed, we appreciate the challenge Governor Newsom is facing. When gyms began to reopen just a month ago, CFA imposed the guidelines we helped the Administration develop, and fitness facilities have continued to adapt these guidelines to include directives such as mandating masks in clubs at all times. As a result, virtually no COVID-19 cases have been linked to the fitness industry.
“We continue to believe that the physical and mental health benefits of fitness are critical to helping people during the pandemic. Physical and mental health are essential to a person’s overall well-being and can help minimize the impact of COVID-19. The California Fitness Alliance will continue working with the Governor and local governments to make this disruption to our members and our employees brief. If this shutdown is prolonged, it will be devastating and costly to our industry. Employees who were just re-hired are once again out of work, and thousands of members who were able to restart their fitness routines are once again forced to find alternative methods of exercise. We look forward to collaborating further with the Governor to get Californians back to fitness, and our employees back to work, as soon as safely possible.”
Health clubs in much of California were allowed to reopen on June 12 although reopening was on a county-by-county basis and places such as San Francisco had not yet allowed gyms to reopen. Members and staff in clubs in Los Angeles County were ordered last week by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to wear masks and gloves the entire time they were inside gyms unless they were in the pool or shower.