On Friday, June 5, parts of Virginia entered Gov. Ralph Northam’s “Phase Two” of reopening Virginia. For some business owners the ability to reopen after two and a half months of forced closure comes as a welcome relief.
“It was very exciting to finally get the news that we were included in Phase Two,” said Anytime Fitness-Ruckersville owner Lisa Taylor. “My anxiety set in and I went full-force in trying to make sure that we had everything ready for re-opening.”
The local gym, which was forced to close after executive order 53 shuttered “non-essential” businesses on March 23, has been struggling to make ends meet, according to Taylor.
“It’s been very frustrating in many different ways,” she said. “We felt like the Governor was telling our members that their mental and physical health wasn’t important by closing fitness centers down for so long. It was very depressing to sit in an empty, quiet gym.”
The gym staff have been making use of the time to deep clean the facility as well as make some needed renovations, and as part of phase 1 were moving fitness equipment outdoors to try and fulfill the newest requirements for only outdoor exercise programs.
“We’re lucky to have staff that either are family or have become like family to help keep our spirits up,” Taylor said. “We took the time to deep clean the gym and do some renovations … financially it has been a struggle. We stopped membership billing in April and continued to pay our rent, equipment leases, utilities and kept our employees employed … even though we were shut down for 2 ½ months.”
Ten weeks and 12 executive orders later, Gov. Northam’s executive order 65 outlined the guidelines for businesses allowed to reopen as part of phase two, to include gyms and fitness centers.
As part of the order, gyms will be allowed to open at 30% of maximum capacity, provided patrons can maintain 10 feet of space from other individuals and no more than 50 people are in one place at a time. Strict cleaning protocols will be in place to ensure shared equipment is disinfected after each use, and items that cannot be disinfected will be taken out of use (climbing ropes, exercise bands) or washed after each use (towels and other reusable cloth items).
Gyms are to screen patrons for potential COVID-19 symptoms prior to admittance and post signage with reminders about proper distancing and cleaning measures. Employees must be screened regularly and wear face coverings.
“We have always stressed cleanliness at our club,” Taylor said. “Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes were always out for our members. We also always had signs and the expectations for members to wipe down their equipment. We have added some extra disinfectant spray bottles and paper towels throughout the gym and have invested in an electrostatic sprayer to help disinfect surfaces.”
As Gov. Northam reminded the public last week in order 65, the easing of restrictions on businesses is possible because of continual monitoring of important health metrics: “We did this because our health data metrics showed that we were increasing testing availability, we have adequate supply of personal protective equipment and hospital bed supply, the percentage of positive tests, hospitalizations, and positive tests were trending downward.”
“We have made remarkable progress over the past several weeks,” Gov. Northam said in his order. “As we move forward, we will remain vigilant, cautious, and measured. We will continue teleworking, whenever possible, to wash our hands frequently, to not touch our faces, and to wear face coverings. Through these 2 efforts, we will continue to protect ourselves, our families, and our fellow Virginians as we respond to this emergency.”
For more detailed information about the guidelines for Virginia Phase Two, visit governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Virginia-Forward-Phase-Two-Guidelines.pdf.
For more information about Anytime Fitness in Ruckersville, visit facebook.com/anytimefitnessruckersville. Anytime Fitness is located at 5924 Seminole Trail.