Murphy: Gyms may open Tuesday at 25 percent capacity


TRENTON — Starting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, gyms, health clubs and indoor amusement facilities will be permitted to reopen at 25 percent capacity, according to an executive order signed Wednesday by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“Gyms are among the most challenging of indoor environments, as noted by multiple epidemiologists and experts,” the governor said at a news briefing . “But given where we are in this fight, we believe we are ready to take this step forward. I know this has been a long time coming and I thank the many, many, overwhelmingly, the many, many responsible gym owners who have done the right things and worked with us over the past several months.” 

The governor described some of the health protocols to be followed.

“When the doors reopen in our gyms, capacity will be limited to 25 percent at any single time. Fitness classes will also be allowed to resume but their capacity must be limited to one customer per every 200 square feet of classroom space to ensure proper distancing. These protocols will also apply to fitness activities like Pilates and yoga classes that were already permitted to resume. 

“All gym-goers are required to wear masks at all times when in the gym. Employees and staff must wear masks at all time, even trainers working with a client, and logs of when all gym members and staff are in the facility must be maintained. So, should a positive test be received by someone who was in a gym, our contact tracers can get right to work notifying other gym goers who were there with them.

“Additionally, on the floors, equipment is to either be moved and spaced to allow a minimum of six feet of distance between all gym-goers or where equipment can’t be moved, certain machines must be cordoned off so that gym goers are at least six feet apart. So for example, in a row of treadmills, this may mean that only every other treadmill will be available for use, and only equipment that can be properly sanitized in between uses should be made available. 

“As many gyms have transitioned to outdoor activities, those may continue pursuant to current limits for outdoor gatherings and so long as members can maintain a safe six-foot social distance,” Gov. Murphy said.

“Given the risk of transmission associated with exercising indoors,” added state Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli, “it is important that both gym owners and customers abide by health and safety guidelines very closely. We know that the virus spreads through the air via respiratory droplets, especially in confined spaces. And when people are working out, they usually breathe more rapidly and deeply, which causes them to expel more droplets.

Gov. Murphy said the state Department of Health will issue more detailed safety guidelines, such as for air conditioning and ventilation, in coming days. The department also will issue guidelines for indoor amusement facilities.

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