Murphy: Gyms can reopen Sept. 1 at 25% capacity (Updated)

    Gyms in New Jersey can reopen on Sept. 1 at 25% capacity, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.

    The governor, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing, gave a number of specifics surrounding the reopening:

    • Masks: All gym-goers are required to wear masks at all times when in the gym. Employees and staff must wear face masks at all times — even trainers working with a client;
    • Logins: Logs of when all gym members and staff were in the facility must be maintained, so that, should a positive test be received by someone who was in a gym, contact tracers can get right to work notifying other gym-goers;
    • Distancing: Equipment is either to be moved and spaced to allow a minimum of 6 feet of distance between all gym-goers, or, where equipment can’t be moved, certain machines must be cordoned off so gym-goers are at least 6 feet apart;
    • Sanitizing: Only equipment that can be properly sanitized in-between uses should be made available;
    • Classes: Fitness classes also will be allowed to resume, but their capacity must be limited to one customer per 200 square feet of classroom space to ensure proper distancing. Protocols also will apply to fitness activities such as Pilates and yoga classes that were already permitted to resume.

    Murphy said he was pleased to finally be able to make the announcement.

    “Gyms are among the most challenging of indoor environments, as noted by multiple epidemiologists and experts in the past several weeks,” he said. “But, given where we are in this fight, we believe we are ready to take this step forward.

    “I know this has been a long time coming, and I thank the many, many gym owners who have done the right things and worked with us over the past several months. You are an asset to your industry, and I thank you for your understanding and partnership.”

    The news was first reported by New Jersey Advance Media.

    Gym owners have been pushing for more openings, saying the extended closures have crushed their business. Mental health experts have said exercise is a key part of both physical and mental fitness.

    Craig Benson, the former governor of New Hampshire who is a Planet Fitness board member and franchise owner who operates 18 gyms in New Jersey, was delighted by the news.

    “Fitness centers are critical to the mental, physical and financial health for New Jerseyans, and we are grateful that Gov. Murphy has announced that we can reopen with safety protocols in place,” he said in a statement. “Throughout the reopening process, we will continue to collaborate with local, county and state health officials to ensure that our members can work out again in a safe, clean, and welcoming environment, and our staff can get back to work.”