JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis says gyms and fitness centers in the state can reopen.
Speaking at a press conference in Jacksonville on Friday, the governor said the change starts on Monday, May 18. The governor called the move a "full Phase One" of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. plan.
"CDC was really about 'close the gyms,' and I was like okay. Look I tried to work constructively, but you think about it, this is a respiratory virus that tends to attack people who have some health problems or who aren’t as in good physical condition," said DeSantis. "So don’t we want people to be getting exercise? Don’t we want people to stay in shape?"
According to the governor's reopening plan, under Phase One gyms and fitness centers can reopen with the following guidelines:
- Operate at no more than 50% of building capacity
- Adhere to strict social distancing and sanitation protocols, including cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces
- Separate patrons by at least 6 feet
- Encourage appointment only or scheduled use of equipment
- Prohibit indoor group sessions or classes
"The American people never signed up for a perpetual shelter-in-place, and we need to be able to get society functioning again," DeSantis said.
Some gyms in the Tampa Bay area are already preparing for the change next week. At the Seminole Heights Athletic Center, owners have tape on the ground to space people apart. People coming to the gym will get their own personal bucket of cleaning supplies to disinfect equipment after use.
"We’ll be spraying down the whole area with a cleaning solution," said owner Karen Tamayo. "It will sit for 10 minutes as per the directions on the cleaning solution, and after that we’ll get ready for the next class.”
The athletic center will still do online classes for people not comfortable going to a gym just yet. However, some gym members explained they're happy with the extra steps the gym is taking.
“We've got members that are healthcare workers that don’t feel comfortable exposing their patients," said gym member Liz Hudson. "People that are in more immunocompromised positions or age groups they don’t feel comfortable. So I know not everyone will be [back] and I know the SHAC is keeping that in mind, but I’ll be back on day one.”
Gyms and fitness centers have been closed since March 20.
Some have already reopened under Phase One, including:
- Amenities of hotels which have a capacity of 10 persons or less
- Amenities of a residential building
- Interior to any fire or police stations
- Located inside any single-occupant office building
DeSantis also said restaurants, retail spaces, museums and libraries can allow 50% capacity starting Monday. He said restaurants can use table spacing or partitions to abide by the distance guidelines in place.