[Update: 7:30 p.m. ET, July 6. This story was updated with news about an order closing gyms in Miami-Dade County in Florida.]
Health club operators in a few states are still fighting to reopen, even as those in Arizona have been ordered to close again due to COVID-19 concerns. And in Los Angeles County in California, new rules mean not just face masks for everyone but also gloves.
Following are updates on what is happening in Florida, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
Health clubs in Miami-Dade County in Florida will have to temporarily close again on July 8 after a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area, many of which involve people 18 to 34 years old, according to an order given by Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. Gyms had reopened in the county in mid-June. The mayor said that the spike could be due to people gathering in congested places without wearing masks and practicing social distancing. He also is closing indoor dining at restaurants, banquet halls, party venues and short-term rentals, but condominium and hotel pools, beaches, summer camps and daycare centers will be allowed to be open with social distancing and masks. The area’s 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will also remain in place.
Health clubs in much of California were allowed to reopen on June 12. However, San Francisco likely will not reopen gyms until August. Marin County postponed its planned June 29 reopening of gyms due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, and Contra Costa County postponed its July 1 reopening.
Clubs in Los Angeles County are reopened, but now, health club members and staff in Los Angeles County must wear masks and gloves the entire time they are inside the facilities unless they are in the pool or shower, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. When gyms initially reopened, health club staff had to wear face coverings at all times but they were not required to wear gloves. Members were not required to wear masks or gloves until now.
Indoor fitness centers in Massachusetts can reopen at 40 percent capacity beginning July 6 except for those in Boston, which must wait until July 13, according to a July 3 announcement from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Equipment will need to be spaced 14 feet apart unless a physical barrier is set between the equipment, in which case the equipment can be six feet apart. If spacing or barriers are not possible, then equipment must be blocked off so people can maintain a 14-foot distance. Participants in group fitness classes must also maintain 14-foot spacing unless physical barriers are installed, which would cut that distancing requirement to six feet. People must reserve space in group fitness classes in advance.
Staff and members will be required to wear face masks and sanitize equipment between use. The use of showers, saunas and hot tubs is not allowed in this phase of reopening.
More guidelines are detailed in this story on Boston.com.
Gyms in some Pennsylvania counties were allowed to reopen in June, but gyms in other counties remain closed, as those counties have not yet met Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe’s requirements to move into the state’s Green Phase for reopening. Philadelphia moved into the Green Phase as of July 3, but the governor scaled back that phase with a few changes that included keeping indoor fitness centers in the city closed until possibly Aug. 1.
Fitness facilities in New York initially were included in phase four of the state’s reopening plan, but in late June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took gyms out of the phase noting he wanted his health department to study air quality. Now, gyms in the state have no date for reopening. In response, a group of club owners plan to file a class action lawsuit the week of July 6 against the governor claiming they were denied due process.
Charles Cassara, owner of SC Fitness, which has clubs in Hicksville, New York, and Farmingdale, New York, will file the suit with his lawyer, James G. Mergmigis of Mermigis Law Group, according to Newsday. The two anticipate having between 1,500 and 3,000 plaintiffs in the suit.
In New Jersey, indoor fitness centers remain closed although outdoor fitness classes are allowed as are indoor private sessions by appointment.
In mid-June, a lawsuit by Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled against the gym’s request to reopen and noted that the constitutional right to reopen in defiance of a state order should be fought in a state court. In mid-May, Atilis Gym co-owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, had reopened their facility despite New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s order that gyms remain closed. Despite this order, the gym is holding fitness classes outdoors. They are holding off on reopening the indoor facility until they “gave the judicial system an opportunity to work properly,” according Smith, who shared an update in a video posted to the club’s Facebook page.
In late June, New Jersey State Sen. Steven Oroho said that indoor fitness centers should be allowed to reopen.
“Regular exercise is a powerful tool that can improve your physical strength, mental health, immune system, and overall well-being,” Oroho said in a media release. “With heightened isolation and reduced physical activity being an adverse effect of the COVID shutdown, the importance of re-engaging in physical fitness cannot be understated. Allowing gyms to open while ensuring social distancing, sanitation measures and safety parameters are in place will keep both patrons and employees healthy, safe and well.”