Arizona Judge Sides with Gyms on Right to Reopen

Andy Berg Headshot

An Arizona judge rules this week that fitness gyms should at least have the chance to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision comes after Mountainside Fitness and EOS Fitness sued Arizona governor Doug Ducey.

At present, gyms in the state are set to be closed until at least Aug. 10 after Ducey twice extended executive orders that closed gyms, movie theaters, bars, water parks and tubing.

"The Executive Orders, as implemented, violate procedural due process," the ruling from Judge Timothy Thomason reads, according to reporting from the Phoenix NBC affiliate. "As set forth above, fitness centers must be provided a prompt opportunity to apply for reopening. The process for doing so must be in place within one week from the date of entry of this Order. The Executive Orders, however, do not violate substantive due process.

Mountainside Fitness had previously filed a restraining order against Ducey’s initial June 29 order, but the company lost that decision.

Will Humble, the former Arizona Department of Health Services director, was a witness for Mountainside. He said the gym could responsibly open with the right procedures in place.

“Not risk-free, not risk-free. I'm not saying that. But it certainly is not in the same risk category as a bar or a nightclub.” Humble said. “I do think the benefits of opening that facility outweigh the risks.”

Current state health director Dr. Cara Christ testified for the state. She disagreed with Humble’s statements.

“The risk is really with the type of activity that they are doing and the intensity of breathing. And so that is what makes it very different than being in a grocery store or a hardware store.“ Dr. Christ said, noting that intense breathing expedites the spread of the disease.

“We know even if the guidelines are followed there is a higher inherent risk when you are exercising for the transmission of COVID-19,” Christ said. 

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