New Jersey gyms and fitness clubs will soon be able to fully reopen to all members more than a year after being ordered to shut down to curb the spread of COVID-19 – a move gym owners are praising as a essential relief for an industry battered by the pandemic.
Starting May 19, gyms can operate at full capacity, as long as they maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday as part of a drastic lifting of restrictions for New Jersey. as COVID cases continue to decline. Gyms and fitness clubs are currently operating at 50% of their capacity.
âThese are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date,â Murphy said at a press conference, âand we are confident we can do it safely, as our numbers have grown from decisively in the right direction over the past three weeks. “
For gyms and fitness clubs, this is the first time in 14 months that businesses have been able to fully reopen.
In March 2020, when the region was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, Murphy ordered the closure of fitness facilities as part of a tri-state effort with New York and Connecticut. Six months later, gyms were able to reopen at 25% capacity, and the state has slowly lifted capacity restrictions since.
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The shutdown, which had an economic impact, along with the continued unease among gym members to return to indoor training, took its toll on the fitness industry. Still, gym owners say returning to full capacity is a necessary first step towards the industry’s recovery.
Leslie Adelman Banks, managing partner of HackensackUMC Fitness and Wellness Center in Maywood, said allowing gyms to return to full capacity sends a clear message to the public that gyms are safe.
âFor us, the message is that it’s not as dangerous,â she said. âWe weren’t dangerous – and at 50% we’re still struggling to get people back. We hope they listen to the message that it’s safe, you can get back to your lifestyle. “
On Wednesday, Murphy only announced that capacity restrictions at gyms and fitness clubs would be lifted. He did not say when or if other restrictions – such as social distancing or keeping locker rooms closed at facilities without a pool – would be relaxed. He said, however, that the social distancing guidelines would likely follow the CDC guidelines.
For gym owners, said Adelman Banks, something as small as opening a locker room could make a huge difference to members who want to return to gyms.
âIt’s a process. It’s a road, âshe says. “But raising the 50% is wonderful.”
Dave Paladino, who owns the Impact Zone Fitness and Sports Performance in Norwood, said it was a âgreat dayâ due to Murphy’s announcement of raising capacity. However, he is aware that the past year has had a devastating impact on the industry, with many gym owners struggling to stay afloat or forced to shut down for good.
âI’m thrilled for every New Jersey gym owner because a lot of them are my friends, and a lot of them are in pain,â Paladino said.
“There is irreparable damage here and it will take serious help to bring this industry back to where it was,” he continued. âEven with the vaccine and all the new drugs out there, people are very scared to go to a health club.â
That’s why more needs to be done, Adelman Banks said, such as passing the federal Gymnasium Mitigation and Survival Act, or the GYMS Act, a bill that would help secure funds for those in the gym. fitness industry struggling to stay afloat. Biparty legislation was introduced on February 5 by U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley of Illinois and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania in response to the pandemic.
If passed, the law would create a $ 30 billion fund to provide grants to affected businesses in the health and fitness industry to cover expenses such as payroll, rent, or accumulated debt. Supporters of the bill say health and fitness facilities have been largely excluded from the economic relief plans already on offer.
âThere are so many fitness centers across the country that have been terribly affected,â she said, âand we’re trying to get sponsorships to help us get back on our feet.
Melanie Anzidei is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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