At least one Charlotte gym says it will file a legal challenge to Gov. Roy Cooper’s modified Phase Two coronavirus reopening, effective at 5 p.m. Friday, that keeps gyms and fitness centers closed.
Workout facilities had been expected to be allowed to reopen. But Cooper instead ordered a more “modest” approach that will keep them closed through June 26.
Rob Jenkins, co-owner of Charlotte’s Hive Fitness, said his club has a lawyer and hopes to join with other fitness centers to challenge the order within days.
“We just feel like it’s a blatant abuse of rights,” Jenkins said. “It’s not right for a public official to be able to shut down somebody’s way of making a living for months on end.”
Hive had been open only two months when it shut down under Mecklenburg County’s stay-at-home order on March 18. It reopened last Sunday, while the state’s Phase One order was still in effect.
“Not many people can go 90 days without income,” Jenkins said. He said police officers visited Thursday for a “polite” conversation but issued no citations.
The center is abiding by capacity limits, capping class sizes to 10 people and the building’s open gym area to 10, requiring social distancing and sanitizing, Jenkins said.
Huntersville fitness enthusiast Megan Masters, meanwhile, launched an online petition asking Cooper to reopen gyms. More than 2,600 people have signed the petition since it went on change.org Thursday.
Masters said the two gyms she belongs to have improved her physical health and mental outlook, aspects she considers crucial during the stress of the pandemic. Both had planned to reopen with extensive distancing and disinfection practices, but Masters now worries whether they can financially survive the shutdown.
“I don’t see how something like going to your gym can be more dangerous than having your hair cut, because (barbers) have to physically touch you,” she said Friday. Personal care services, such as hair salons, may reopen at 50% capacity.
The state Department of Health and Human Services says North Carolina is meeting three of the four benchmarks it had set to cautiously reopen the state. COVID-19 has killed more than 700 in the state, including 73 deaths in Mecklenburg.
Positive test results continue to rise, to more than 21,000, in part because of increased testing, state data show. While the number of people hospitalized shows recent increases, state officials believe those have stabilized. The percentage of people who test positive has fallen.
“While our metrics are relatively stable, our case numbers are increasing, and Safer At Home Phase 2 is a more modest step than originally envisioned,” DHHS spokeswoman Amy Ellis said Friday. “The spread of COVID-19 can be significant in indoor spaces where people share or are touching the same equipment and are close to one another, and especially at gyms where people are breathing harder and typically not wearing face coverings.”
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