Florida Governor Says No To Calls For Gym Closures In The State

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected the idea of closing gyms, stating that people who are physically fit have a lower likelihood of having complications if they get COVID-19. (Photo by bubaone/iStock/Getty Images Plus.)

In Florida, restaurants, bars, hair salons and amusement parks such as Disney World are open. And so are gyms. But when asked on July 17 about closing health clubs and fitness studios in Florida due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected the idea, saying gyms are helping people remain healthy.

A July 14 document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force noted that 18 states, including Florida, are in a “red zone,’ which are areas that have recorded more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population in the past week or a positivity rate above 10 percent. Authors of the document recommended that these 18 states roll back their reopenings and close businesses such as gyms and bars to help contain the spread.

When asked in a July 17 news conference about closing gyms, DeSantis said no.

“I think most people who are going to the gyms are in the low-risk groups, and I think what they are doing is making them even less at risk of the coronavirus,” DeSantis responded. “So, I don’t think it would make sense to close them.”

He noted that people who are physically fit have a lower likelihood of having complications if they get COVID-19.

These points were just some of the points made in a letter that IHRSA and 61 health club executives sent to all 50 governors on July 7. In that letter, IHRSA made the case  that reopened health clubs are not the cause of the increase in COVID-19 cases, that health club operators are being responsible in physical distancing and cleaning measures they are putting in place, and that a survey of health clubs found that of 135 clubs with 3.4 million total check-ins, there had been 0.004 percent positive cases reported in gyms as of June 30.

However, after an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Arizona, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered on June 29 that gyms in his state close until July 27. Arizona fitness centers had closed in mid-March and were allowed to reopen on May 13 before being closed again.

A spike in cases in California led California Gov. Gavin Newsom to order on July 13 that gyms in 30 of the state’s 58 counties close indefinitely. Gyms in California had been allowed to reopen on a county-by-county basis starting June 12.

Gyms in countries such as Germany and Austria have been reopened 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 COVID-19 cases from gym use.

To help make the case that health clubs are safe, MXM is asking health clubs, studios, YMCAs, JCCs, university rec centers, and parks and rec facilities to complete a survey noting number of visits compared to number of COVID-19 cases. You can participate in that survey by going here.