COVID-19: Gym and Fitness Center Re-Opening Guidelines
EHA Recommendations for Decontamination of Food Service Operations
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus is thought to spread mostly person-to-person, by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The virus might also spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose, mouth, or possibly eyes. Infected people can spread the virus whether or not they have symptoms.
Knowing this information, it is critical that gyms and fitness centers adhere to strict practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their facility as their members are breathing hard, sweating and in contact with equipment and objects which can be shared.
The guidelines below are sourced from various State and CDC instructions. The information contained herein is based on best practices at the time of writing. They are directed to operators of gyms and fitness centers to help guide them during opening and throughout their operation.
- Fitness Centers/Gyms must maintain a capacity of 33% or less.* Use your seating capacity guide as a reference for those operations holding 75 people or greater. Setup entrance and exit paths so they are not bi-directional if feasible.
- Engineering controls: setup barriers at the front desk or other locations where a six-foot separation is not feasible.
- Administrative controls: limit the use of small spaces like closets to one person at a time.
- Post signs inside and outside of the fitness center/gym regarding COVID-19 precautions in place such as practicing good hygiene, 6-foot social distance rules, appropriate use of PPE (e.g. masks), and cleaning and disinfection protocols (e.g. clean equipment, such as yoga mats and treadmills, between uses).
- Move electronic payment terminals/card readers farther away from the attendant
- Health screenings for guests/customers are required for each visit.*
- These screenings indicate they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 nor are they living with anyone that does. This can be done electronically via the web or an app. These records must be kept for at least 28 days to support contact tracing if the need arises.
Employees: Monitoring & Hygiene Guidance
- As a best practice, require COVID-19 training for staff such as www.360training.com/course/coronavirus-awareness (free).
- Designate a Site Safety Monitor*. This is the operator’s designee that can handle overall COVID-19 operation compliance such as screenings and contact tracing requests.
- Require employees to wear face coverings at all times.
- Train all employees on the importance and expectation of increased frequency of handwashing.
- Stagger breaks for employees so they do not congregate in the same area. Remove excessive chairs and tables, use markers to indicate proper separation. Six-foot distance applies even during break times!
- Screen employees daily who show signs and symptoms of COVID-19 even after they have been screened.* For example, do they have a fever over 100.4°F, cough and/or trouble breathing. Further questions are summarized in the table below:
If a customer reports a positive symptom on a screening they must not be allowed to enter. If an employee answer yes to a screening question they must be sent home and instructed to contact their healthcare provider.
- Schedule an inspection by the health department before or within 14 days of opening.*
- Your customers must wear a face mask at all times even during such activities as lifting weights and running on the treadmill. Exception: children under 2, while eating or in a pool. All face coverings must completely cover the mouth and nose. Bandanas, buffs, and gaiters are not acceptable.
- Separate workout equipment six feet apart. Remove extra benches, bikes and treadmills etc. to meet this requirement. Use tape or other ways to mark off space to accommodate this six-foot requirement. If rearranging is not an option, place “do not use” signage and turn-off/unplug select equipment to allow for proper social distancing.
- The Department discourages activities like using free weights and bench pressing, but they are still allowed. If spotters are required for weightlifting they should not linger. The equipment must be disinfected between use with an EPA approved disinfectant. The current disinfectant wipes you had pre-COVID-19 might be suitable but check the label to be sure.
- As the demand for equipment rises implement sign in sheets for equipment and classes.* When the same groups of people use equipment or take classes together it reduces the chance of widespread outbreaks. Encourage customers to bring their own equipment such as yoga mats and towels.
- Boxing and other contact sports.
- Saunas and steam rooms or any similar tightly enclosed area.
- Communal Showers.
Restrooms and Locker Rooms
- Upgrade towel dispensers to touch less. Install barriers between toilets and sinks if a six feet distance is not already in place.
- Prohibit communal showers, saunas and steam rooms. Individual shower stalls are acceptable.
- Clean restrooms and locker areas every 2 hours.* See an example below.
- Air Filtration system must meet MERV-13 (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) requirements or equivalent.* At this level your filter will capture not only dust but even tobacco smoke, pollen, bacteria and of course viruses. HEPA filters are one such example.
- The COVID-19 virus is about .125 µm (microns). To put this into perspective one grain of sand is 90 µm in diameter. To achieve MERV-13 your filter must catch 90% of particles in the 3-10 µm range, 90% of particles in the 1-3 µm range and 50% of particles in the range 0.3-1 µm range. µm according to the Nature Public Health Emergency Collection.
- Alternatively take advantage of outdoor workout activities as the open air dramatically reduces the chance COVID-19 will spread.
Considerations for the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces
- Use the Coronavirus-approved wipes (read back label) provided. Do not use glass cleaner or other all-purpose cleaners. Allow the surface to dry according to the dwell time listed on the label. This could be one minute, or it could be ten minutes depending on the brand.
- If for some reason more wipes are not available, or you must find an alternative, use only an EPA approved product. The list of cleaning supplies to effectively kill COVID-19 is available here.
- If your COVID-19 approved wipes are temporarily out of stock or otherwise unavailable, and you need a sanitizer immediately, use bleach. To kill the Coronavirus, you must have a solution which is at least 1,000 ppm (sodium hypochlorite). The dwell time on this mixture is one minute.
- 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
COVID-19 is not believed to be spread through pools, spas, Jacuzzis, lakes or other bodies of water according to the CDC. Restrictions on these activities should be dictated by the amount of people congregating near or in them. Always adhere to six-foot distancing except for members of your own family. This could mean only one person at a time is permitted in small spaces such as a hot tub-if your fitness center has one.
- Limit groups to 10 or less, such as swimming classes. Other groups are permitted in the pool as well provided they can stay six feet apart.*
- Guests on the pool deck must wear a mask.*
- Affix social distancing markers on the ground indicating 6-foot separation between guests.*
- Post rules at the front entrance and throughout the facility reminding staff and guests to:
- 1) Stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19,
- 2) Have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, or were exposed through close contact to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days,
- 3) Encourage proper hand and respiratory hygiene,
- 4) Adhere to social distancing rules,
- 5) Wear appropriate face coverings.
- COVID-19 Employer Information for Gyms and Fitness Centers
- Reopening New York
- Interim Guidance for Pools and Recreational Aquatic Spray Grounds During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
*New York Mandated