Health club and gyms operators in California are suing state governor Gavin Newsom in an attempt to reopen the state’s fitness facilities.
The California Fitness Alliance (CFA) filed the lawsuit in response to Newsom’s measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 – which CFA says "unfairly targets" the fitness industry.
Gyms and health clubs were first ordered to close their doors in March. After a relaxing of lockdown measures in June, they were then ordered to re-close their doors in mid-July, just weeks after being allowed to open.
Under current rules, fitness centres are allowed to reopen indoors at 10 per cent of capacity in areas where infections drop from "widespread to substantial". In areas with minimal infections, gyms can reopen indoors at 50 per cent capacity. In areas where the virus is deemed "widespread", gyms remain closed.
In the lawsuit, filed at Los Angeles County Superior Court, CFA says that the governor is wrong to force gyms to close without providing evidence that they contribute to virus outbreaks.
"When the pandemic began, CFA members focused on being part of the solution," said Francesca Schuler, CFA founding partner and CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs.
"We created strict guidelines to ensure public safety when exercising indoors, so Californians could receive the health benefits associated with exercise and help expand the fight against COVID-19. When the state briefly reopened, these protocols worked.
“Despite repeated requests for information, California has not shared any data about the sources of outbreaks in the state, but a CFA study revealed that of the more than 5.5 million members who checked into 285 fitness centers between June 12 and July 13, only 0.002 percent of those members tested positive for COVID-19."
Scott J. Street, a lawyer representing CFA, added: “CFA is taking this action reluctantly.
"Its members not only complied with the initial eight-week shutdown but many were proactive in shutting down prior to the statewide stay-at-home order in March, as a demonstration of their commitment to the health of their communities.
“Since then, CFA has worked with the Governor’s Office and state health officials to detail how indoor fitness activities can safely reopen and strengthen the statewide effort to help people maintain their health and well-being during the pandemic.
"Unfortunately, the indefinite extension of a virtual statewide shutdown and unfounded rules restricting access to fitness centers are jeopardizing the health and well-being of millions of Californians who need a safe and secure place to exercise. It is also having a devastating impact on the many thousands who serve in fitness, most of whom got into the industry because they believe in helping people lead healthier lives.”
CFA was formed in March with the aim of becoming the "united voice of all fitness professionals in California". To find out more, click here.