A Plea For Fair COVID Treatment for WA Fitness/Wellness
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We, the small, independently-owned and operated health studios and communities of Washington have banded together to challenge the mandate released August 3 that requires 17 feet of space between clients in our businesses. Restaurants, bars, liquor stores, casinos, malls, etc., (all with lots of lobbying money) have remained at the CDC-suggested 6 feet.
To be clear, this new requirement is a death sentence for all small fitness businesses. For example, this would allow your average yoga studio to have 4 clients, your average barre studio to have 2 clients, your average HITT studio to have 3-5 clients. And this mandate will continue through Inslee's "indefinite" Phase 2 and Phase 3!! We've surveyed dozens of fitness studio owners--all on the cusp of closing down--and, complying with this new arbitrary mandate will be the nail in the coffin.
Shockingly, this requirement is not founded in research or medical advice. Even more shocking, the new mandate exempts team sports--like football--from adhering to the 17 feet requirement. If this mandate was truly based in science, hopefully our leadership wouldn't exempt team sports, which are much, much more likely to pass CV-19 (sweating on each other, tackling, touching, etc).
To serve our communities and keep our businesses from closing permanently, we ask that spacing requirements for health studios are similar-in-nature to all other service business requirements, including but not limited to bars, restaurants, and retail centers. ALL WE WANT IS FAIR TREATMENT.
To that end, it is our position that:
The Phase 2, Indoor Fitness and Training reopening requirements are reconsidered to allow for 6 feet between clients and no more than 25% capacity.
In Phase 3, Indoor Fitness and Training reopening requirements are reconsidered to allow for 6 feet between clients and no more than 50% capacity.
- Owners will prohibit any “open gym” activities. All activities should be planned and scheduled to allow health studios to easily enforce attendance limits.
- Owners will ensure a minimum transitional period of 15 minutes between classes/sessions to ensure adherence to social distancing requirements. This will also allow staff to disinfect space and equipment between classes.
- Owners will ensure that each participant has (a) a designated training area to create appropriate and consistent physical distance and (b) designated equipment to minimize any physical interaction between participants. No sharing of equipment.
- Owners will ensure participants do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with individuals who have Covid through the form of temperature checks and a waiver.
We believe that our small facilities can effectively keep our clients and staff safe and healthy while maintaining the CDC’s recommendation of 6 feet of separation. To clarify, small fitness spaces are not big box gyms and should not be treated as such. There has been no evidence that the local outbreak in COVID cases are tied to health studios currently operating that have taken every precaution asked of them.
Additionally, we believe that our health studios are essential in helping support and protect our community’s physical and mental health. It has been proven that exercise increases the circulation of your immune cells, which can locate and fight viruses. Exercise decreases inflammation in the body which can further improve immunity. Outside of the physical benefits of exercising, many of our clients have told us that by re-opening we have helped their mental health during these challenging times. Many members in our community do not have the space or the resources to purchase in-home fitness equipment such as a Peloton, and count on us to help them survive through this. It has become increasingly unclear why it is considered safer to dine out with 4 of your friends at one table at a restaurant, with no mask, but deemed too dangerous to exercise with a mask, over 6 feet apart, with all safety precautions in place in our studios.
We agree to follow all updated cleaning and sanitation mandates, face coverings, screening protocols and other worksite specific safety practices but ask that reasonable restrictions be put in place that can continue to let us operate instead of shutting down. With the current restrictions in place, most of us will have to shut down indefinitely, with no chance of surviving.
We welcome dialogue with local government leaders and health officials to discuss how small health studio owners can be most safe and effective in improving the health of our communities while continuing to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Thank you for your time and service.
Yours in Health,
The WA fitness studio owners and communities
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