Raimondo: As gyms open Monday, ‘rules more important than ever’

Masks and 14 feet of space are some of the guidance given to fitness centers under Phase Two of the state's reopening plan

PROVIDENCE,  RI (WLNE) – Gov. Gina Raimondo gave guidance on how gyms and other fitness centers will be required to operate under Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan at her daily press briefing Wednesday.

Patrons will be required to wear masks while exercising, and a minimum of 6 feet of distance would be required for equipment.  Any shared stationary equipment must be sanitized between use. Businesses will be required to maintain contact tracing information of all staff and attendees.

Close contact sports such as boxing and wrestling would be forbidden, as would saunas and steam rooms. Pools are permitted under guidelines set by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Classes would be limited to 15 participants, while overall capacity for open workouts would be limited to one person per 150 square feet.

Some of the guidelines fell short of a requirement and are listed on the Reopening Rhode Island web page as recommended practices.

Raimondo said the guidelines had been adjusted from an earlier version released this morning, after a Facebook town hall event with thousands of participants called attention to some requirements that would be difficult to adhere to.

A minimum of 6 feet of distance between workout equipment is required, according to the posted guidelines.

However, during the briefing, Raimondo stressed that 14 feet of distance was preferable. The governor cited studies  that have shown respiratory droplets can spread further than 13 feet from the type of breathing vigorous exercise can produce.

Reservation systems are encouraged, along with scheduled workout groups to limit interactions between different groups of people. Locker rooms and waiting ares are recommended to stay closed. Group showers are not permitted but individual stalls could be allowed if they were sanitized between use.

The current guidelines are expected to remain in place for the month of June, after which the state will enter into Phase Three, Raimondo said.

As the state looks to  relax rules on what businesses are open, Raimondo stressed the importance of adhereing to the rules put forth.

While the governor said she does not personally uses gyms, she would feel comfortable using one.

“A lot of people are asking me, ‘Do you thing it’s safe, would you do it?,'” Raimondo said, “and the answer is ‘Yes, I would.'”

The governor said the state’s opening of its gyms and fitness studios, along with restaurants, put it ahead of neighboring states Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“Why? Because I trust you,” Raimondo said. “I trust you to follow the rules and do the right thing.”

The governor said more guidance on indoor dining during Phase Two would be coming as soon as tonight or tomorrow, and would be addressed during Thursday’s briefing.

The governor also announced a new program from the American Red Cross that offers grief counseling and other services, including help with custody and estate laws, for families that have lost a family member COVID-19. More information is available on the Virtual Family Assistance Center website. 

Additionally, the governor extended registration and license deadlines that expired in June for 90 days, giving residents until September to renew documents at the Department of Motor Vehicles. With only the Cranston and Middletown branches open, Raimondo stressed that residents should take advantage of the online services offered when possible.

Earlier Wednesday, RIDOH added 21 new deaths and 143 new cases to the state’s COVID-19 health data, bringing the state’s total to 4,353 cumulative cases and 655 deaths.

Raimondo thanked Rhode Islanders for their hard work in stabilizing the state’s infection and hospitalization rate, and spoke of how difficult it was to announce the number of deaths each day.

“They’re not numbers, they’re people,” Raimondo said. “They’re our loved ones in Rhode Island and I just want to ask every Rhode Islander to remember that, and keep those who have lost someone to the COVID crisis in their prayers.”

©WLNE-TV/ABC  6 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island