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Sacramento County pulls plug on fitness studios, small gatherings after state intervenes

Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders don't currently allow gym and fitness studios to reopen in the state.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Sacramento County has walked back its decision to allow the opening of fitness studios and plans for small gatherings after state public health officials said both are still not allowed under relaxed stay-at-home orders.

Shortly after giving the green light for small exercise facilities to reopen, the county was forced to backtrack when the state intervened.

“The Department of Health Services was willing to work with small fitness studios to reopen based on significant restrictions and requirements that ensured ample space between customers and staff and disinfecting shared equipment in order to protect public health,” Sacramento County Director of Health Services Dr. Peter Beilenson said in a statement.

“However, we have received feedback from the state Department of Public Health that no gyms or small fitness studios of any kind may reopen at this point, and we will respect and follow that guidance.”

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Beilenson told KCRA-TV in Sacramento on Thursday that the county’s initial reopening plan instructed small studios to adopt significant restrictions, including limiting the space to a small number of clients who would need to register for class. Equipment was not to be shared, bathrooms could not be used and an in-depth hourly cleaning was required.

The county had also hoped to get permission from the state to allow for gatherings of 10 people or less. In its petition to further reopen, Sacramento County leaders included a proposal to allow for small group settings, but the state did not grant the request.

“There are still no gatherings of any size permitted outside of household members,” the county’s public information officer, Janna Haynes, said Friday.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage plan to reopen the state and lift his stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic is currently in the second phase, which allows for curbside pickup and delivery of food and goods, and the reopening of outdoor museums.

Some counties have been approved for dine-in restaurant service and in-store shopping, though gatherings of mixed households are still not allowed.

Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order is set to expire Friday night. Officials plan to issue a revised order that will allow in-restaurant eating and expanded shopping. The county has seen a decline in confirmed cases in recent weeks. To date, officials have reported more than 1,200 COVID-19 infections and 56 deaths.

Gyms and fitness studios, categorized as high-risk businesses under Phase 3 of Newsom’s plan, are not currently allowed to reopen. Earlier this month, Newsom rebuked three Northern California counties that rushed to reopen businesses, including exercise facilities, without the state’s approval.

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To contain the spread of COVID-19, parks, restaurants and stores are slowly reopening.

At least 42 counties, including Sacramento, have met the state’s guidelines to further lift restrictions. Some counties, such as Los Angeles County, are moving more slowly to reopen.

Counties are allowed to move at their own pace but must not circumvent the state’s orders.


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