Massachusetts reopening

Headed Back to the Gym in Massachusetts? Here's What to Expect

No enclosed space within a gym may exceed occupancy of 8 persons per 1,000 square feet

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Gyms and fitness centers began to reopen across Massachusetts Monday as the state entered Phase 3 of its reopening process.

Fitness clubs and gyms, including places that offer weight training, spin classes and yoga, are reopening after months of being closed.

Gyms in Boston, however, won't be open until July 13, after city officials asked for extra time to prepare. In addition, Somerville won't enter Phase 3 until that date at the earliest.

State guidelines mandate that the facilities keep their capacity under 40 percent, increase equipment cleaning and require patrons to wear face coverings.

Here's a closer look at what gyms are required to do in Phase 3, per the Massachusetts Department of Health website.

Social Distancing and Equipment

  • Each facility must monitor visitor entries and exits, ensure social distancing, and limit occupancy at all times to 40% of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder
  • Facilities for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow 8 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible indoor or outdoor space
  • In any case, no enclosed space within the facility may exceed occupancy of 8 persons per 1,000 square feet
  • All occupancy counts and calculations shall include visitors, staff, and other workers
  • Arrange all equipment (weights, machines, treadmills, bikes, etc.) so exercise areas are spaced out at least 14 feet apart. Spacing of machines may be adjusted to at least 6 feet apart if barriers are installed
  • If spacing of equipment is not possible, equipment should be blocked off (e.g., every other machine) to maintain 14 feet distancing
  • Install visual markers (boundaries, walkways, signage, etc.) to encourage customers to remain at least 6 feet apart while moving throughout the space
  • Establish directional pathways to manage visitor flow for foot traffic, to minimize contact (e.g., one-way entrance and exit to rooms, one-way pathways). Post clearly visible signage regarding these policies
  • Stagger lunch and break times for workers, regulate the maximum number of people in one place and ensure at least 6 feet of physical distancing between workers
  • Close or reconfigure common spaces and high-density areas of facilities where workers are likely to congregate (e.g., break rooms and eating areas) to allow 6 feet of physical distancing
  • Close or reconfigure other common spaces where customers are likely to congregate or where social distancing is not possible, such as lobbies and waiting areas
  • Require face coverings for all workers and visitors, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability
  • If customers cannot wear a face covering during strenuous fitness activities, physical distancing must be at least 14 feet. If customers are wearing face coverings during fitness activities, physical distancing must be at least 6 feet
  • Install physical partitions in areas where physical distancing is not possible, such as service counters
  • In group fitness classes, 14 feet of physical distancing must be maintained between attendees at all times. If physical barriers are installed between group fitness equipment, 6 feet of physical distancing should be maintained

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According to the health department's website gyms that reopen in Phase 3 must:

  • Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap and running water, and allow enough break time for workers to wash hands frequently; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative
  • Distribute hand sanitizer and disposable wipes abundantly throughout the space for workers and customers to disinfect their hands and equipment before and after use
  • Disposable wipes should be placed next to each piece of large equipment (such as treadmills, bikes, rowing machines) and next to each area containing smaller equipment (such as free weights)
  • Require trainers to wash hands before and after each training session and sanitize frequently during each session
  • All equipment must be sanitized between uses. No equipment should be used by another customer or returned to the storage rack / container without being sanitized
  • Encourage customers to use one piece of equipment at a time (e.g., limit circuit training or “super sets” with multiple pieces of equipment) in order to facilitate required sanitizing. Facilities must provide sanitization supplies at each piece of equipment in order for customers to clean in between each use
  • If sanitation (or the monitoring thereof by employees) of any piece of equipment is not possible or practical, this equipment should be closed off
  • Encourage customers to use their own personal exercise equipment (such as spin shoes, jump ropes, yoga mats, etc.) when possible. If shared items are used, they must be sanitized in between each use
  • Post visible signage throughout the site to remind workers and customers of hygiene and safety protocols
  • Allow water fountains to be used as refill stations only, provided that social distancing can be maintained. Customers and workers should bring their own water bottles or purchase from the business
The next phase of Massachusetts' reopening begins next week.

Protocol for Staff Members

In Phase 3, gyms are required to:

  • Encourage outdoor exercise, classes, sessions, etc. where possible, so long as appropriate physical distancing is maintained at all times and any equipment used is sanitized after each use
  • Personal trainers should maintain six feet of distance from clients to the extent possible and should minimize any prolonged close contact. Personal trainers must wear face coverings. Any equipment used during the personal training session must be sanitized after each use, or at the end of the session if the client was the only person who used the equipment during the session
  • Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission, including:
  • Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings
  • Self-screening at home, including temperature and symptom checks
  • Reinforcing that staff should not come to work if sick
  • Operations of related services may be allowed to open and must follow sector-specific safety protocols for each setting. Some examples include:
  1. In-facility child-care: Must follow child-care guidance
  2. Bars/food services: Must follow restaurant guidance
  3. Pools: Must follow pool guidance
  4. Athletic facilities (e.g., tennis courts): Must follow adult and youth sports guidance
  5. Massage: Must follow close contact personal services guidance
  6. Saunas, hot-tubs, and steam rooms: May not open before Phase 4
Gov. Charlie Baker announced that travelers from the rest of New England, New York and New Jersey will no longer have to quarantine when they travel to Massachusetts.

Cleaning Guidelines

When it comes to cleaning, gyms must:

  • Clean commonly touched surfaces in restrooms (e.g., toilet seats, doorknobs, stall handles, sinks, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers) frequently and in accordance with CDC guidelines
  • Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site (at least daily, and more frequently if feasible)
  • Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning
  • Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavily transited areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, handrails, equipment, etc.)
  • In the event of a positive case of a worker, customer or vendor shut down site and wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with current CDC guidance
  • Disinfect all fitness equipment or mutually-touched objects (e.g., spin shoes, jump ropes, dumbbells, etc.) immediately after each use. At no point should customers come in contact with objects that others have touched without first being disinfected according to CDC guidelines

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