AUSTIN, Texas — Gyms and exercise services can reopen on May 18 following Gov. Greg Abbott's plan for reopening businesses with restrictions that he detailed in a press conference on May 5.
According to the state, gyms, exercise facilities and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but must operate at 25% occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed but restrooms may open. Employees and contractors of the gym or exercise facility are not counted towards the 25% occupancy limitation.
Here is a list of recommendations from the State for gyms:
- Space workout equipment to provide for at least 6 feet separation between patrons.
- Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms.
- Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
- Provide equipment cleaning products throughout the gym or exercise facility or class for use on equipment, including dead weights.
- Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees, contractors, and customers.
- Place readily visible signage at the gym or exercise facility or class to remind everyone of the best hygiene practices.
- For facilities with more than 10 employees and/or contractors present at one time, consider having an individual wholly or partially dedicated to ensuring the health protocols adopted by the facility are being successfully implemented and followed.
- Train all employees and contractors on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
- Screen employees and contractors before coming into the gym or exercise facility or class
- Have employees and contractors wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the gym or exercise facility.
- Have employees and contractors maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
- If a gym or exercise facility or class provides a meal for employees and/or contractors, the gym or exercise facility is recommended to have the meal individually packed for each individual.
- Consistent with the actions taken by many employers across the state, consider having all employees and contractors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). If available, employees should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.
At Austin Art of Fitness, they plan on reopening on May 18, but will only allow up to four people in the building. In addition, they plan on watching the number of COVID-19 cases, which could ultimately influence their decision to reopen on May 18.
“If we need to pull back at all or we need to close again, we’re prepared to do that. We have remote training still available – it’s here to stay," said owner Jonathan Pisana.
While Pisana said there will still be measures in place like constantly cleaning equipment after each use, gloves for customers and more, there's still a concern among some that it's too much, too soon.
"They need to do everything that they possibly can to prevent their gym from becoming a hot spot," said emergency medicine physician Dr. Natasha Kathuria.
She added that gym owners should consider spreading equipment out further than six feet.
"Anywhere we have crowding of people in one area, especially in a gym – you're sweating, people are moving around, they're touching their face, wiping their sweat – it's very likely that it could become a hot spot," said Kathuria.
The Texas Nurses Association said hospitals in the Lone Star State are prepared if case numbers start to go up again.
"I'm still hearing that hospitals do indeed have a capacity, both staffing capacity as well as bed capacity," said Cindy Zolnierek, a registered nurse and the CEO of the Texas Nurses Association. "I think with the recommendations with the 25% capacity, with the cleaning requirements and other specifications and if individuals that frequent those places are careful and follow the recommendations, I think they're well advised."
At 413 Fitness, a gym that specializes in workouts for people with movement disorders, owner Kristi Richards told KVUE on Tuesday they're still working on a plan to safely reopen, whether that is May 18 or a later date. In addition, they will continue to offer classes for those who are not comfortable with coming back anytime soon.
Gold's Gym gave KVUE a statement on Tuesday:
“The health and safety of our team members and members has always been our top priority and it’s never been more important. We have created extensive sanitation, safety and social distancing protocols for our company-owned gyms and are in the process of receiving and reviewing the state’s reopening guidelines. Our goal is re-open our company-owned gyms in Texas on May 18, but only if we believe we can safely do so. We know our members are eager to get back to the gym and we look forward to welcoming them back as soon as it is safe to do so.”
– Adam Zeitsiff, Gold’s Gym president and CEO
Life Time also gave KVUE a statement on Tuesday:
"We will open our clubs when we know the majority of our members have the confidence and peace of mind that Life Time will deliver the safest environments in our communities, just as we always have. Once we are satisfied that our members and team members feel safe, we will announce our reopening date.
"Life Time, in partnership with an epidemiologist and industrial hygienist, have been working through detailed plans and safety protocols that include enhanced and rigorous cleaning using EPA-registered products and the strategic use of Life Time’s vast square footage to allow for ample physical distancing. These protocols are available on our website at https://my.lifetime.life/safety."
Gov. Abbott's update states that people should continue to avoid visiting bars, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, sexually-oriented businesses, or interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys, video arcades, amusement parks, water parks or splash pads.
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