California has long been considered one of the “capitals” of the fitness industry as it is home to thousands of gyms and boutique fitness studios.  COVID-19 hit the state’s fitness industry particularly hard when shelter-in-place orders were announced in mid-March and, as we detailed in an article last month, now presents unique reopening challenges.

On June 5, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that gyms and other fitness facilities may start to reopen as of today, June 12, 2020, subject to county-specific authorization.  That same day, Gov. Newsom issued a series of comprehensive guidelines for the fitness industry.  Among other things, the guidelines:

  • Require contactless temperature and/or symptom screening for all employees at the beginning of their shifts as well as of any vendors, contractors, or other workers entering the facility, or requires that individuals perform similar self-screening at-home;
  • Urge fitness employers to temperature and/or symptom screen customers and/or members upon arrival and request that they use hand sanitizer and wear face coverings to the extent possible;
  • Strongly encourage employers to mandate that employees wear face coverings when they are in close proximity to others, particularly if social distancing cannot be maintained in the gym or studio space;
  • Require fitness employers to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff;
  • Mandate that fitness businesses remind customers and/or members to wear face coverings and provide face coverings to those who arrive without them; and
  • Suggest employers consider whether disposable gloves may be helpful to supplement frequent handwashing.

Late yesterday, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, issued a revised Health Officer Order permitting gyms and other fitness businesses to reopen as early as June 12th.  To accompany the Order, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued detailed reopening protocols for the fitness industry.  Among other things, the protocols:

  • Require all members and customers to wear face coverings except when engaged in physical exercise or while training;
  • Limit “gym” occupancy to 50% or less;
  • Require modification of group classes to permit at least six feet of distance between patrons;
  • Suggest, for “high aerobic classes,” at least eight feet of social distance; and
  • Recommend the implementation of contactless payment and check-in systems, if feasible.

California’s second most populous metropolitan area, San Francisco, has yet to authorize the reopening of fitness businesses.  Pursuant to the City’s and County’s current reopening plan, gyms and similar businesses are presently anticipated to reopen in Phase 3 of the reopening timeline, which is expected to begin sometime in mid-August.