[Update: 4:45 p.m. ET, July 6. This story has been updated with additional details from the Arizona Department of Health Services.]
Life Time Fitness, Chanhassen, Minnesota, has decided to comply with the Arizona governor’s order to temporarily close health clubs in the state again to help curb a spike in COVID-19 cases there, the company announced on July 3. The governor originally ordered clubs in the state to close on March 18, and then allowed them to reopen on May 13. But after an increase in COVID-19 cases, the governor ordered gyms to close again on June 29 until at least July 27.
Initially, Life Time remained open, defying the order, but the company announced on July 3 that it would temporarily close the indoor fitness portion of its Arizona clubs on that day and remain closed through the evening of July 6 to allow time to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey and the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services about how to reopen the indoor fitness portion of the facilities.
Other services and amenities in the club, such as the salon, spa, food service, kids clubs and pools, will remain open.
On July 2, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) issued emergency measures in a Notice and Demand for Compliance letter requiring that Life Time and Mountainside Fitness come into compliance with the governor’s order by noon on July 3. Life Time agreed to do so while Mountainside did not.
ADHS has agreed to partner with Life Time to develop examples of best practices for the fitness industry to provide technical assistance for other fitness professionals, according to a media release from the ADHS.
A letter to members from Life Time said: “As you likely will attest, Life Time’s safety protocols are beyond that of any other business. Once the health department has the opportunity to review what you’ve been experiencing every day, we believe they will come to the same conclusion.”
The letter noted that the government should work with each industry to unveil the safest protocols to conduct business, which could include limiting business capacity appropriately (based on surge of the virus and hospital capabilities), requiring all employees to wear masks and for members to do so when six feet or less from another employee or member, and deploying temperature checks.
“Businesses who do not comply with these agreed upon, robust safety and cleaning protocols should be shut down immediately and assertively,” the letter states.
Life Time asserted in the letter that gyms can operate more safely than any other business and that contact tracing, if needed, is easy to perform with gym members because each visit is recorded, which is something other businesses allowed to continue to operate cannot do.
Mountainside Fitness, the largest chain in the state, also remained open last week in defiance of the governor’s order. The 17 locations will continue to operate pending a court date on July 6 related to the company’s lawsuit to stay the governor’s order, Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten said in a July 3 press conference.
“If we are allowed a stay, we will move forward until our full case is heard,” he said. “If the court does not allow a stay, we will comply and respect the court’s decision. We will deal with being closed again.”
Gyms were asked to close without any proof as to why while other businesses were allowed to remain open, he said.
“We were part of the solution,” Hatten said in the press conference. “We had given our energy and our time, our spirit, our money to this. We care about every Arizonan. I spent 30 years caring about every Arizonan’s health.”