Save California Climbing Gyms!
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We - rock climbing enthusiasts, supportive family members and friends of rock climbing enthusiasts, climbing gym employees, and climbing gym owners - hereby express our support for the release of California rock climbing gyms from Coronavirus shutdown orders.
Our call to action by state and county governmental agencies that have prescribed the shutdown of health clubs and gyms is based on the following premise:
1. Climbing gyms are distinctly different, and materially safer, than ordinary health clubs, and should not be categorized with them:
- First, the spacing allowed visitors to a climbing gym, via the use of reservation and check-in systems, is typically much greater than to visitors of ordinary health clubs;
- Second, unlike ordinary health clubs, where cardio machines and weight machines constitute the great majority of activity, such activities constitute a small part of the activity in climbing in gyms; and
- Third, climbing gyms necessarily have a high degree of ventilation.
2. Scientific studies support the conclusion that climbing gyms will not increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as a result of using virus-killing liquid chalk and the high degree of spacing involved in indoor climbing.
Liquid chalk kills Coronavirus. Doctors at the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that liquid chalk, a mixture of traditional climbing chalk (magnesium carbonate) and alcohol actually kills Coronavirus. See https://news.cuanschutz.edu/news-stories/liquid-chalk-proven-in-cu-lab-to-kill-coronavirus-potentially-helping-gyms-to-safely-reopen.
A study at De Montfort University found the same. See https://www.abcwalls.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Corona-Virus-and-Chalk-Press-release-v2.pdf.
- A study in Norway found that the reopening of gym facilities during this pandemic did not increase the spread of the virus. See https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.24.20138768v2.
3. At least 28 other states are currently allowing climbing gyms to open, and many others are either in the process of or planning reopening of climbing gyms. There has been no evidence that climbing gyms increase the spread of Coronavirus.
4. Understanding that there is justifiable cause for shutdowns of ordinary health clubs, the public would greatly benefit from the availability of exercise options that do not increase the spread of Coronavirus. It is common knowledge that the greater the physical condition of a COVID-19 patient, the greater the patient’s chance of a positive outcome.
5. Climbing gyms can easily employ, and in fact did employ during the brief re-opening period, the following measures to protect visitors and employees:
- Reservation and check-in requirements (standard in the RockGymPro enterprise software system used by well over 90% of climbing gyms), which together allow for significant distancing in the gyms;
- Temperature checks at check-in;
- Condition screening as part of the reservation process;
- Use of liquid chalk only (see above);
- Suspension of all group activities in the gym;
- Closure of all showers, locker rooms, and saunas; and
- Constant sanitization of all surfaces.
Based on the foregoing, we respectfully request that climbing gyms be released from the broader shutdown of health clubs as soon as possible. This release serves both the interests of public health and the interest of not harming the economy where a public health interest is not being served.
We encourage you to write, email, and call California Governor Gavin Newsom and the heads of public health in your state and county to make the foregoing case.
Gavin Newsom, State of California Governor
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Sandra Shewry, Acting State Public Health Director
Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer
PO Box 997377, MS 0500
Sacramento, CA 95899
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