St. Louis County Guidelines: Gyms and Fitness Centers

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Information from St. Louis County:

These guidelines are generally effective June 15, 2020, with the exception of certain outdoor physical activities, discussed below, that are effective June 1, 2020. In accordance with DPH’s Order for Amended Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening Order, dated May 29, 2020 and effective June 15, 2020, these guidelines may be replaced or modified by DPH based on new scientific information and local information including the trajectory of influenza-like illnesses, cases of COVID-19, and any other information deemed relevant to protect public health in St. Louis County.

These guidelines apply to personal training services, gyms/fitness centers, yoga/Pilates studios, health clubs, martial arts facilities and dance studios, as well as similar occupations and businesses.Gyms and Fitness Centers Guidelines

Due to the nature of gyms and fitness centers, an abundance of caution must be exercised to mitigate and prevent exposure to respiratory illnesses including COVID-19. Persons who are more vulnerable or at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — including those who are over the age of 60, those who have severe underlying medical conditions, or those who are pregnant — must take extra precautions or refrain from using close contact personal services at this time.

The guidelines for fitness training that is conducted outdoors are effective June 1, 2020. The guidelines for gyms, fitness centers, and other similar activities are effective June 15, 2020.

Outdoor fitness training or classes

Given the lower contagion risk for exercising outdoors, fitness training or classes conducted outdoors may begin on June 1, 2020 in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Such training may be conducted only in an outdoor area with no enclosures.
  • Such training must not include more than 10 participants.
  • Participants should maintain a distance of at least 6-8 feet from each other.
  • Participants cannot share equipment.
  • All equipment must be cleaned prior to and after the training or class.
  • If mats or other ground coverings are used, participants should be encouraged to bring their own.
  • When possible, face coverings should be worn.
  • All training or classes should be conducted with no contact.
  • All other social distancing requirements must be followed.

The indoor gym, studio, or facility

  • Limit member occupancy to 25% percent of the facility’s authorized or building code occupancy.
  • Mark paths using tape or chalk on the floor guiding people to entrances and exits and throughout the facility, establishing one-way paths when possible.
  • The facility may only operate while staff are on-site.
  • Post signage at each entrance stating that no one with a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness (including COVID-19) shall be permitted.
  • Post signage at the entrance to the facility and throughout the facility that states: “Warning: droplets exhaled during exercise can travel up to 12 feet. Take care to avoid possible exposure.”
  • Limit the number of users in restrooms and locker rooms based on facility size and current social distancing requirements. These facilities must be cleaned and sanitized per CDC recommendations. Place signage throughout the locker rooms reminding members to maintain six feet of distance between others.
  • If individual shower stalls are in use, they must be cleaned between each use.
  • Disable or close off communal style showers except those used only for rinsing at pool facilities.
  • Steam rooms and saunas must remain closed.
  • If towels are provided, they shall be stored in covered and sanitized containers that are clearly marked to avoid contact with used towels. Appropriate temperatures shall be used when laundering soiled towels to ensure proper sanitation. Employees must wear gloves and a face covering when handling clean and soiled towels.
  • Any sports leagues or teams shall follow the Department of Public Health’s Youth Sports Guidelines or Adult Sports Guidelines. Employees should be trained to understand and implement these documents.

Indoor fitness classes or activities

  • Group fitness classes must be limited in size and cannot exceed 25% of a room’s capacity. Participants must be separated by at least 6-8 feet while exercising. A distance of 10-12 feet is recommended.
  • There can be no shared equipment during the class. Class schedules should be adjusted to allow for deep cleaning between classes.
  • Martial arts, dance, and other contact activities should be adjusted to avoid person-to-person contact.

Promote healthy hygiene practices

  • Require that members wash or sanitize their hands upon entering and leaving the facility;
  • Encourage frequent hand washing. Provide ample hand sanitizer throughout the facility.
  • Staff must wear facial coverings at all times except when alone in an enclosed space. Members must wear a face covering at all times except when exercising.
  • Post signs in highly visible locations reminding people how to stop the spread of respiratory illness, properly wash hands, promote everyday protective measures, and properly use a face covering.
  • Maximize airflow by opening windows or re-engineering HVAC systems. Place fans, if used, to blow away from patrons or others.
  • Recommend that persons more vulnerable or at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 take extra precautions when at the facility.

Increase cleaning and disinfection protocols

  • Staff shall conduct hourly disinfection of high-touch surfaces, equipment and common areas of the facility using disinfectant cleaning supplies according to CDC guidelines . Consider scheduling additional staff to help with cleaning.
  • Shared surfaces (i.e. keyboard, phone, desktop, printer) must be sanitized between shifts.
  • Have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors. These include soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol (for staff and customers), disinfecting wipes, face coverings, and tissues.
  • Drinking fountains shall be inoperable except for the bottle filling function.
  • Require customers to clean equipment using disinfecting wipes before and after each use.
  • Close or cover any machines or equipment that cannot be easily cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected.
  • Place several hand sanitizing stations throughout the gym.

Ensure social distancing

  • Post signs throughout the facility to remind users of social distancing protocols.
  • Arrange waiting areas to prevent guests from congregating.
  • Remove unnecessary shared items from the premises, including magazines, newspapers, service menus, or snack bowls. Use shared equipment properly
  • All cardio equipment used by members should be separated by 10-12 feet. This includes cardio equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals, standing bicycles, and rowing machines. Cardio equipment that cannot be separated by 10-12 feet but can be separated by 6-8 feet must be separated by a barrier of Plexiglas or similar material and users must wear face coverings for protection.
  • All cardio equipment must be arranged so users are facing the same direction.
  • Post the required signage in all areas where cardio equipment is located that states: “Warning: droplets exhaled during exercise can travel up to 12 feet. Take care to avoid possible exposure.”
  • Temporarily close water fountains, common areas, break rooms, check-in counters, or other areas where customers or employees may congregate;
  • Suspend self-service food options like coffee bars or smoothie stations. If food retail is provided in the facility, the facility should follow restaurant guidelines.
  • Eliminate use of hand-held shared equipment like stretch bands and rubber weights. Only metal hand weights can be shared, and only if disinfected between users.

Screen all visitors to the facility

  • All members must sign in with the following information: name, phone number or email address, home address, and date and time of entrance to the facility. If an electronic system for member sign-in is used, it must record the time when each person enters the facility.
  • All members must be screened for signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Ask about the presence of fever, new or worsened cough, trouble breathing, new or worsening body aches, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Any member that answers yes to any screening question shall not be permitted to enter the facility.
  • Ask the member if they have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Any member that answers yes to screening question shall not be permitted to enter the facility.
  • Take temperatures of each member using a touchless thermometer. Anyone with a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) shall not be permitted in the facility.
  • All vendors entering the facility must sign in with their name, contact information, and the date and time of entry.
  • All vendors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms using a similar protocol before they can be allowed to enter.

Monitor employee health

  • Upon arrival at work, employees must be masked, and employers must conduct health checks. Conduct health checks safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws.
  • Screening should include 1) a temperature check using a touchless thermometer, 2) questions about the presence of cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell and 3) questions about close contact with any person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Employees with a temperature of 100.4°F or above, or who answer yes to any of the screening questions, must not be allowed to enter the workplace.
  • If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, work with local health agencies to ensure that anyone who has been in contact with the employee can be notified.
  • Employees who are sent home with symptoms should not return to work until they have met St. Louis County and CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation or they have been cleared to return by their healthcare provider.
  • Close off areas used by any sick person and do not use them until they have been cleaned in accordance to CDC guidelines.
  • Designate a staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. Employees should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Create a communication system to notify staff and members of potential exposures or facility closure.

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