November 30, 2020


On November 20, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., all indoor dining, youth sports, theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, museums, libraries, casinos, and gyms, in the City of Philadelphia, were ordered to shut down as part of the Safer at Home restrictions ordered by Mayor Jim Kenney. Any gyms or fitness facilities that fail to comply with the Order will be subject to the imposition of penalties, fines, license suspensions, and other remedies as provided by law, including fines for up to $2,000 per violation for businesses and $500 per violation for individuals. These closures are set to last for at least six weeks, barring any spikes in COVID-19 cases. Under Kenney’s Order, any facilities as defined by the Order in these locations are closed.

Mayor Kenney, draws his authority to issue such an Order from the Department of Health.  Given the importance of local engagement, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has provided authority to local leaders to implement their own orders, ordinances, or directives in order to protect health and safety as long as they are stricter than those mandated by the state. Additionally, counties and municipalities are authorized to enforce state law, including orders from the Secretary of Health or Governor.  Accordingly, Philadelphia businesses and employers must comply with both sets of regulations.

Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine, have announced additional statewide restrictions and requirements for gyms and fitness facilities around the Commonwealth. This Order is separate and apart from all facilities in the City of Philadelphia, as those restrictions are stricter than those mandated by the state.

Orders initiated by Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine which took effect on November 27, 2020, states that all gyms and fitness facilities, will be permitted to continue indoor operation at up to 50% occupancy, but must prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. Outdoor and indoor activities must follow face covering requirements as provided by the Updated Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings, dated November 17, 2020, including any subsequent amendments. Gyms and fitness facilities must provide for physical distancing requirements of persons being at least six (6) feet apart. These requirements apply to all gyms and fitness facilities throughout the Commonwealth and overlap with the Safer at Home standards for those operating in Philadelphia.

As a business, gyms and fitness facilities must require individuals entering the facility to wear face coverings, and deny entry to individuals not wearing face coverings or alternatives to face coverings, unless medically necessary. Owners must post signs requiring face coverings, physical distance, and occupancy limitations, at every entrance as well as throughout the facility.   Businesses must be able to document and demonstrate efforts made toward compliance.

Although permitted to continue operations, owners must ensure staff and members abide by the masking requirements, social distancing requirements, and occupancy requirements to limit the risk of exposure and consequential closure. Gyms and fitness facilities not located in Philadelphia are not subject to the enforcement mechanisms provided in the November 27, 2020, Order as they are not retail establishments or restaurants.

Businesses, restaurant owners, and employees are protected under the Limited Immunity Related to Universal Face Coverings as to the Secretary of Health’s Updated Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings, effective November 18, 2020, including any subsequent amendments, except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness, or bad faith.

As the state continues to release updated restrictions to help alleviate exposure and decrease the climbing number of those infected, gyms and fitness facilities must also be aware of any local restrictions. As in the City of Philadelphia, restrictions have led to a full closure and harsher penalties for non-compliance. This is contrasted by the most recent statewide Order.

To ensure gyms and fitness facilities are following the correct Orders and understand the possible implications for non-compliance, please contact one of the attorneys in our Employment Law Group at 1-888-488-2638.