The inclusion struck public health experts as bizarre. ‘Gyms are like a petri dish,’ said Laurence Gostin, the director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. ‘People are close to one another, they’re sweating, they’re coughing and sneezing, they’re touching multiple surfaces, they’re sharing equipment, they’re indoors. Literally all of the heightened risk factors for COVID transmission are all entwined together in a gym.’
The White House’s guidance included mitigation measures that would ostensibly minimize the risk of transmission at gyms that opt to reopen, including ‘strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.’ But Gostin said he’s not convinced that the risks of transmission could be sufficiently minimized. …
The decision on gyms came a day after Trump’s phone call with sixteen business leaders including Stephen Ross, the founder and chairman of the Related Companies. That firm’s portfolio includes Equinox Holdings, which owns its own eponymous chain of luxury gyms as well as fitness brands SoulCycle, Blink Fitness, and Pure Yoga.
Those businesses, like the larger fitness industry, have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. SoulCycle has slashed payroll and furloughed employees. Equinox and Blink have both frozen membership charges.