North Carolina Gyms Get Second Chance At Reopening In Phase Two

Health club operators in North Carolina initially thought they would be part of phase two of the state's reopening, but at the last minute, they were moved to phase three, which now may not occur until July 17 at the earliest. (Photo by Phynart Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus.)

Health club owners in North Carolina await Gov. Roy Cooper's signature on a second bill that would allow them to reopen their doors in phase two of the state’s reopening plan.

The first bill, House Bill 594, seeking reopening of gyms and bars was vetoed by the governor last week, and the legislature was unable to override it. The second bill, House Bill 806, was passed by the state House and Senate on June 26. It initially addressed offering limited immunity from COVID-19 related claims for privately owned community pools, but when HB 594 failed, state legislators worked with Fitness Operators for Responsible Reopening, a group of club operators in the state, to add gyms into HB 806.   

The second bill does not require the governor to get approval from the Council of State to close gyms and other businesses again if needed. The North Carolina governor is a Democrat while the Council of State is majority Republican.

This bill would allow gyms to operate at 40 percent capacity, requires daily temperature checks of employees, requires employees to wear masks, provides for contactless check-in, requires disinfectant spray and hand sanitizers around the gyms and requires frequent cleaning of high-touch areas.

Cooper has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. If he does nothing, the bill will go into effect without his signature.

Phase two of North Carolina’s reopening plan was scheduled to end on June 26, but Cooper announced on June 24 that he would extend phase two for three more weeks, meaning phase three would start no earlier than July 17. Gyms are one of the businesses that originally were set to reopen in phase two but then were pushed to phase three at the last minute. Fitness facilities in the state have been closed since March 25 when the governor issued stay at home orders to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

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