TRENTON, N.J. - If you live in New Jersey, you can soon pump some iron again.
State officials announced Wednesday morning that residents will soon be able to return to gyms. Masks will be a requirement, and capacity will be capped at 25 percent, Gov. Phil Murphy announced via Twitter.
Gyms and fitness centers had been required to keep their indoor spaces closed to the public. Since July, however, they were permitted to offer individualized indoor instruction by appointment only to individuals and their families, caretakers, or romantic partners according to a list of rules and health guidance published by the state.
Later on Wednesday, the state released its "required protocols" for gyms, health clubs and indoor amusement facilities, which include:
- 25% capacity;
- group fitness classes limited to 1 person per 200 square-feet;
- all members and staff must wear masks at all times;
- logs for members and staff;
- six feet distance between equipment
- sanitizing equipment.
Additional guidelines for details like air ventilation and circulation and other health department requirements will be forthcoming, Murphy said.
The closing of gyms has been a point of contention for New Jersey residents, especially as facilities have reopened in some neighboring states.
Most notable has been the case of a Camden County gym that kept opening its doors in defiance of the state's shutdown order. The owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, have received several citations and were arrested late last month on contempt and other charges. The city council even revoked their license. And they said they're being fined $15,000 a day as long as they stayed open amid the pandemic. They had already been fined $130,000 by last week.
Murphy called gyms "among the most challenging indoor environments to percent COVID-19 transmission," and thanked gym owners "who have helped us crush the curve."
"I know this has been a long time coming, and I thank the many, many -- overwhelmingly, the many, many responsible gym owners who have done the right things and worked with us over the past several months. You are an asset to your industry ad our state, and I thank you for your understanding and partnership," Murphy said at his COVID-19 response update Wednesday afternoon.
He went on to say, "I know there have been a few knuckleheads who have been more than interested in their own celebrity, frankly, than in working with us to defeat the virus. But they are thankfully, overwhelmingly, outnumbered by the good guys and gals."
The governor also thanked resident gym members across the state "who have also risen to the challenge" by adapting to new schedules, putting memberships on hold, moving their workouts outside, and changing schedules.
"It is also because of your diligence that we can do this," he said.
Murphy also announced Wednesday that 288 new COVID-19 cases had pushed the state's total to 190,306, including 425 patients in hospitals, 72 of them in intensive-care units, and 29 ventilators in use.
"Sadly, we must report 11 new confirmed #COVID19 deaths, for a total of 14,134 lives lost," Murphy tweeted.
At this time, 31 states and U.S. jurisdictions are on the state's list requiring a 14-day quarantine. That list does not include Delaware, which has been on and off the list.
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