On Tuesday, Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group announced guidance for gyms and exercise facilities on how to reopen safely. Gyms will be allowed to reopen in 89 of the state’s 95 counties beginning Friday, May 1.
The counties excluded are those with locally-run health departments: Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan.
“Exercise is incredibly important for the physical and mental health of our population, and we want Tennesseans to have access to safe environments where they can exercise as appropriate,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “These guidelines outline best practices in keeping with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and health experts for gyms to reopen in a way that will keep their employees and customers safe.”
In addition to strict adherence to CDC guidelines, the State recommends gyms, fitness/exercise facilities, or substantially similar facilities and activities put into place an assortment of measures to protect consumers and employees. The full guidelines are posted online here and include:
Business Process Adaptations
- Restrict facility access to staffed hours only (i.e., any unmanned facilities must be manned) and limit facility occupancy to 50 percent of capacity as dictated by fire code (as such capacity is adjusted in consideration of closed areas of the facility pursuant to these guidelines);
- Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling;
- Staff to conduct regular (i.e., every 2 hours) disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, equipment and common areas of the facility using disinfectant cleaning supplies according to CDC guidelines;
- Close showers, locker rooms, and lockers until further notice. Ask customers to instead use small gym bags to store personal belongings; remind customers to appropriately monitor or secure such personal belongs or provide a secure area monitored by staff;
- Close all swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas and other recreational water or spa facilities;
- Close all basketball courts, racquetball courts, and other places where formal and informal group or team sports may occur;
- Any youth or adult team leagues or sports should remain closed;
- Only allow group fitness classes if classes can be completed in accordance with social distancing recommendations (including but not limited to: less than 50% capacity and with more than 6 feet of distance maintained between participants at all times; no shared equipment during the class; sufficiently adjusted class schedules to allow for deep cleaning between classes; martial arts and other contact activities should be completed without any person-to-person contact);
- Encourage all employees and customers to wear PPE where applicable, and recommend that customers wear a face covering (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers);
- Adjust equipment layout and close or restrict access to equipment to maintain at least six feet of distance between equipment;
- Temporarily close water fountains, common areas, break rooms, check-in counters, where customers or employees may congregate. Encourage users to provide their own water;
- No self-service options (coffee bars, smoothie stations and other forms of communal food in facilities). Food retail should follow restaurant guidelines;
- Ensure that staffing of facilities is sufficient to enable enhanced sanitization and cleaning measures;
- Screen customers for illness upon entry to the gym:
- Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer. Persons with temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be permitted on premise;
- Minimum: Question customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms
Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
- Keep doors and windows open where possible to improve ventilation;
- Post signs encouraging social distancing (visible to customers);
- Require that customers wash or sanitize their hands upon entering and leaving the facility;
- Require customers to clean equipment they come in contact with using disinfecting wipes before and after each use;
- Encourage customers to use only one piece of equipment at a time (i.e., no circuits or “super setting”) so that machines are cleaned after use;
- Consider limiting workout length to avoid unnecessary exposure, decrease congestion, and allow for additional sanitization;
- Recommend that persons more vulnerable or at-risk for COVID-19 as identified by the CDC—including those who are over the age of 65 or those who have chronic medical conditions—take extra precaution or refrain from use of the facility during Phase 1 of re-opening.
- Allow employees to work from home as much as possible;
- Screen all employees reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms;
- Staff should wear face coverings (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) and other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC;
- Provide training on personal protective equipment based on CDC guidelines;
- Provide a sanitizing station such as a wash basin with soap and/or bottle of hand sanitizer;
- Practice recommended social distancing to the greatest extent possible.