California residents felt the state moving forward from the coronavirus pandemic when movie theaters, bars and gyms were allowed to reopen on June 12. People were once again going to beaches and life seemed to be returning to normal. But Governor Gavin Newsom reported over 7,000 new COVID-19 cases across the state on July 9, with a 7-day average of 8,031 new cases per day.
The spike in positive cases caused the governor's office to reverse course. He announced that most commercial activity in 19 counties must cease immediately on July 1. The closures will last at least three weeks - until at least July 22. All bars, movie theaters, casinos and others establishments were forced to shut their doors again right when they were just getting back up and running.
The California Department of Public Health now has a "county monitoring list" that tracks troubled areas of the state. The data include transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths and other metrics. There are currently 26 counties on the watch list, meaning their numbers are heading in the wrong direction. Four Bay Area counties are on the watch list: Contra Costa, Marin, Napa and Solano. There were five Bay Area counties on the list as recently as last week. But Santa Clara county was removed. Now officials are taking steps to get the area moving again.
A directive was issued July 8, informing gyms and fitness centers that they can reopen. It makes clear, however, that state-level directives supersede county directives. Thus all facilities must adhere to the most restrictive policies. Going to the gym will be very different for members.
Social distancing is required throughout the gym. That likely means only half of the cardiovascular machines will be operational to prevent people from exercising too close. All gyms must submit their social distancing protocols to the county and adhere to them under penalty of perjury. All workers must be given copies of said protocols. A copy must also be readily available for law and code enforcement personnel. Maximum capacities will be enforced. Members must make reservations to come to the gym.
The most controversial part of the mandate is facial coverings. The county mandates that everyone in the facility must wear face masks even when they are exercising. Lindsay Bottoms, an exercise and health physiologist at the University of Hertfordshire wrote an article for The Conversation on June 15. She tested the theory that wearing masks could be detrimental to the health of individuals doing high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. She ran at high speed on a treadmill first with just a fencing mask, then with a cloth mask. A portable gas analyzer was used to measure the air's composition.
Bottoms noted that regular, sea-level oxygen concentration is about 21%. That number dropped to 17% within the mask, the equivalent of breathing at 5,000 feet above sea level. The most alarming part was carbon dioxide levels, a normally negligible gas in the air. But it was 3% of the air composition within a cloth mask, which is double the amount the UK Health and Safety Executive recommends for workplaces.
Keeping the patrons safe is one thing. The state is also concerned about workers. The mandate recommends plexiglass barriers at the front desk and other areas where customers and employees come in contact. Gyms can get around the social distancing mandate in their cardio rooms by placing partitions between each machine.
Eco Office has provided essential services to gyms in Santa Clara County and throughout the Bay Area. We provide solutions for all your plexiglass and partition needs. Give us a call today at 408-437-1700 to discuss your options.