As state and local governments across the United States begin to relax their restrictions around COVID-19, private businesses are faced with questions about which COVID-related requirements to adopt and how to enforce them.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention still recommends face coverings in public indoor areas, even for vaccinated individuals, but 14 states have officially lifted their mask mandates, with others planning to follow suit.
Fitness facilities and gyms face a unique set of challenges regarding the use of masks and face coverings. COVID-19 is spread through large respiratory droplets as well as tiny airborne particles emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or breathes. In gyms, patrons are often exerting heavily, which increases the volume and speed at which they are exhaling air. This air can linger in a space for hours, even after the infected person has left the building, which increases COVID-19 risk to everyone sharing the space.
In addition to airborne risks, gym patrons share equipment and touch common surfaces that may carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. These surfaces may not be sanitized before every usage.
The CDC recently released a study that found social distancing is not enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 in gyms. The study identified 55 cases of COVID among Chicago residents who attended high-intensity gyms where social distancing was required but masks were not.
National fitness facility chains that do not currently require the use of face coverings at all times while indoors include:
- Gold’s Gym
- La Fitness
- Life Time
- 24 Hour Fitness
The CDC infection prevention recommendations for gyms and fitness centers include conducting in-person health checks for employees, placing hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility, and performing cleaning and sanitization after any suspected COVID-19 case. In addition, the CDC recommends optimizing the ventilation of fitness centers by increasing filtration and ensuring the maximum amount of fresh air is delivered while maintaining a humidity of 40-60%.
A complete list of the CDC guidelines for gyms and fitness centers can be found here.
Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and companies easily identify airborne infection risks and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.