gyms

Governor’s office releases gym reopening guidelines

A workout area is taped off in Nashville due to the coronavirus pandemic on April 2, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group has released its guidance for gyms to start opening around the state on Friday. Shelby, Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Sullivan and Madison have the power to make their own decisions about reopening schedules locally, though most have been matching state policy.

Here’s the full release:

Nashville, Tenn. — Today, 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;

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Lee orders statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 and on dine-in restaurants, bars

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s coronavirus response in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has issued a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and  ordered all restaurants be limited only to drive-thru or takeout service.

Restaurants that serve alcohol will be allowed to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption under the oder.  Gyms and fitness centers will also be ordered closed.

The executive order runs from Monday through April 6.

Meanwhile, Nashville Mayor John Cooper has issued a “Safer at Home” policy for the city that requires all non-essential businesses to close their doors. As of Sunday morning, Nashville had 179 residents who had contracted COVID-19, with those between ages 18 and 49 making up nearly 70% of the cases.

Under guidance issued by the Metro Nashville Department of Public Health:

YOU CAN … 

  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor or provider first)
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru
  • Care for or support a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six feet between you and others.
  • Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian if necessary
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies
  • Receive deliveries from any business which delivers

YOU SHOULD NOT … 

  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided on the facility websites.

Is this Order mandatory? What happens if I don’t comply?

Yes. This is a legally enforceable order.

The governor’s full release is after the jump.

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Lee to include repeal of ‘gym tax’ in budget proposal

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the National Federation of Independent Business at the Cordell Hull building in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee says he will repeal the ‘gym tax’ as part of his first annual spending plan. The tax 10% tax on gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs brings in about $10 million in state revenues per year. It remains to be seen how much of that savings will be reflected in the cost of individual gym memberships. But gym owners are bound to be pleased.

Here’s the full release from the Lee administration:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his plans to repeal the amusement tax on gym memberships in his upcoming budget.

 

“I’m pleased to be able to include a tax cut in my first budget,” said Lee. “Repealing the gym tax is an important step in reducing the burdens on small businesses in our state.”

 

The nearly 10 percent amusement tax is placed on memberships to gyms, fitness centers and health clubs and disproportionately impacts small business owners. On the books since the mid-1980s, the gym tax represents approximately $10 million in state revenue.

 

“Unfortunately, we’ve discouraged Tennesseans from investing in their health and wellness by taxing their efforts,” said Lee. “The skyrocketing costs of health care and Tennessee’s high rates of obesity and diabetes means we simply cannot afford to discourage healthy habits.”

 

According to the Department of Health, Tennessee ranks 40th in the nation for physical activity and 35th for adult obesity. Recent estimates show that illnesses related to diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease cost Tennessee more than $5.3 billion annually in direct and indirect costs.

 

“I look forward to working with the legislature to modernize our tax code and prioritize the wellness of Tennesseans,” said Lee.