August 27, 2020

PA Governor Wolf’s New COVID-19 Restrictions Impact Gyms and Fitness Facilities

On July 16, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf executed a new set of restrictions to combat the resurgence of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. The new restrictions placed additional limitations on bars and restaurants, indoor and outdoor events and gatherings, business operations, and gym and fitness facilities. Bars and restaurants are now limited to 25 percent occupancy for indoor dining with the prohibition of bar seating altogether. Indoor events and gatherings are not to exceed 25 persons and outdoor events and gatherings must not exceed 250 persons. Unless not possible, businesses are required to conduct their operations, in whole or in part, remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction(s) in which they do business. If a business is unable to conduct operations remotely, it may conduct in-person business, provided the business complies with all substantive aspects of the building safety order, the worker safety order, and the masking order.

All gyms and fitness facilities remain permitted to continue indoor operation but are directed to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities. The operation of gyms and fitness facilities must follow masking requirements as provided by the July 1st Order and implement necessary procedures to abide by the social distancing requirements of persons being at least six (6) feet apart. Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, MD, ordered all persons in the Commonwealth to wear face coverings, in relevant part:

            (B) in any indoor location where members of the public are generally permitted.

The Order did not carve out an exception for persons in the Commonwealth exercising within a gym or fitness facility. As such, persons engaged in physical activity within a gym or fitness facility are required to wear face coverings. Furthermore, the CDC recommends wearing a mask in the gym when interacting with other people, when physical distancing is difficult, and when exercise type and intensity allows. Equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, and machines must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. Resistance bands and weightlifting belts should not be shared as it cannot be cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected properly, between each use.

Businesses and individuals in violation of the above-mentioned orders, issued pursuant to the authority granted to the Governor and the Secretary of Health under the law, could be subject to fines, business closure, or other applicable enforcement measures.

It is imperative that gym and fitness facility owners, employees, and patrons abide by the July 16, 2020 restrictions encompassing the July 1, 2020 order, as well as the recommendations set out by the CDC to avoid potential fines and/or business closure. Gym owners need to make an effort to consider and exhaust all options for outdoor training space and document their efforts toward that end. Even if efforts do not bear alternatives, owners will have proper documentation to verify compliance.

If you have any questions or are in need of assistance in implementing these procedures, please contact one of the attorneys in our Employment Law Group at 1-888-488-2638