Reopening Regulations Disappoint Oregon Gym Owners

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Oregon recently lightened its COVID-19 regulations for businesses, but some of the state’s gym owners say the slight allowances aren’t enough to kickstart their businesses after 10 months of frequent closures.

According to The Oregonian, Oregon governor Kate Brown announced Tuesday that all gyms and fitness facilities with more than 500 square feet can allow up to six people, excluding staff members, inside starting Friday. For facilities under 500 square feet, one-to-one training is allowed.

"It's pretty anticlimactic and it honestly feels like a big slap in the face," said Physiq Fitness founder Landon Burningham said, according to KGW in Portland. "A lot of the gym owners I've spoken with feel the same way.

"Six people in 3,000 square feet is safe, but seven people in 30,000 square feet is completely unsafe? That's where it really doesn't make any sense to any business owner. If there's 3,000 square feet and six people can fit in it and that's completely fine, then why cannot one more person fit in even 10 times the amount of space?"

Since November’s spike in COVID-19 cases, Oregon gyms have been closed in counties that are deemed to be at “extreme risk” of the coronavirus. The Oregonian reported this week that 25 of the state’s 36 counties are currently categorized as extreme risk.

“The science has shown us that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities when it comes to the spread of COVID 19, which is why we have clearly delineated guidance between indoor and outdoor activities,” Gov. Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “We have seen over the last several weeks that Oregonians have largely complied with risk levels to the point that we have not seen a surge in hospitalizations that would have jeopardized hospital capacity. This means we are able to make these adjustments."

Gyms in the extreme-risk locations are now allowed start welcoming customers back, which was met with some frustration.

“Six people is difficult," StarCycle Portland on North Williams owner Danielle Massari said, noting her studio is 1,000 square feet and fits 14 bikes spaced six feet apart. "It's not ideal. It feels a little bit like a slap in the face from the governor. I don't know what she's trying to do with that number."

Related content: Residents Protest Fine on Gym That Refused to Close

Related content: Oregon’s Rec Center Adopts Tent Model to Mitigate Risk

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