Gov. Phil Murphy announced today, the reopening of New Jersey gyms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fitness centers will be expected to operate with a reduced indoor capacity of 25 percent and meet other safety guidelines, officials said. The new rules take effect on Sept. 1
For around two months, gyms were permitted to operate, but with limitations. Only personal trainers were permitted to use them to provide private lessons to individuals or several members of the same household or the same “bubble,” as per Murphy.
The governor has so far declined to fully reopen gyms and his administration has taken action against gym owners who have ignored his orders. In July the owners of a gym in South Jersey were arrested for failing to keep their gym closed. The arrest triggered a legal battle that, so far, has resulted in almost $130,000 in fines against the gym owners.
Murphy also raised concerns about the potential to transmit the virus inside gyms to others.
Gym rules when they open their doors on Sept. 1 include:
- Restrictions on indoor group activities (such as cycling classes) for every 200 square feet of room space to one person.
- Masks or face-covers must be worn inside the gym at all times.
- Equipment needs to be within six feet.
- When people visit the gym, they need to sign a declaration that ensures they will stick to the safety guidelines.
- Gyms must maintain a list of staff and customers, including names and telephone numbers so that the details will be made available for identifying tracers in case there is an exposure to COVID-19 at the facility.
Murphy is taking this next step because of the recent drop in positive cases in New Jersey and the rate of transmission indicating how the virus spreads have trended in the right direction, and since masks can be worn in gyms at all times, officials said.
Taking masks off to eat is an explanation of why the governor has yet to lift restaurant limits on indoor dining, and why movie theaters have not been permitted to reopen because they sell food.
After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently relaxed the restrictions on them, gyms in neighboring New York were allowed to reopen as early as the beginning of this week.
When asked last week about Cuomo’s decision, Murphy said his administration was “getting really comfortable with some moves we might take and gymnastics.”
He added: “I’m not sure we’re going to learn a lot from the experience in New York, but we have a big appreciation of New York, so the fact that they’re taking that step and knowing the basis on which they’re making that decision, and taking that step, is a valuable data point.”
Health officials in New Jersey recorded 288 cases on Tuesday and 11 additional deaths as the transmission rate fell for the fifth consecutive day and stayed below the key 1.
It raises the death toll from the Garden State epidemic to 14,134 confirmed deaths — the second highest in the World. The overall number of positive coronavirus tests in the nation grew to 190,021, the eighth.
Murphy also reported on Tuesday that the state’s travel advisory calling for people coming from COVID-19 hotspots shrank for the first time since New Jersey joined New York and Connecticut in calling for people to self-quarantine 14 days after arrival. Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, and Montana have been dropped from the list of states, currently at 31 states and territories.
Monday marked the tenth consecutive day at New Jersey’s hospitals, with less than 500 coronavirus patients.