RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill allowing gyms, fitness centers and bars to reopen with a 69-50 vote. To go into effect, the bill needs to be approved by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
If signed, House Bill 594 would go into effect immediately and stay in effect through October 31, or 30 days after a more strict rule expires, whichever is later.
Cooper would have the ability to re-close any of the businesses if he gets permission from the Council of State.
The law is not an open-the-doors-wide-open proposal. Significant safety precautions would need to be met for businesses to avoid being shut down again.
Gyms/Health Clubs/Fitness Centers:
Exercise facilities like Planet Fitness, Golds Gym, etc, would be limited to 50% capacity. Employees would be required to take a health questionnaire and take their temperatures before work, and wear face masks at all times. Hand sanitizer would need to be available at all times and facilities would need to undergo routine cleanings.
Exercise equipment would also need to be spaced out to accommodate social distancing requirements. People participating in exercise classes would also be required to stay six feet apart and would be encouraged to wear masks, even during the workout. Doors to the exercise classes would also be required to remain open. Meanwhile, customers would not be allowed to drink from fountains directly. Instead, they could only use fountains to fill up water bottles.
Additionally, gyms would need to put up signs reminding customers of social distancing rules, the bill said.
Chris King is a manager at Sportscenter Athletic Club in High Point. The club has been able to open their swimming pools, but the indoor gym remains closed.
"It's been hard just like everybody else," said King.
Rep. Jon Hardister said he voted in favor of the bill.
Gyms are unique. It's actually good for you to exercise. We need to be safe. We need to protect ourselves from the virus," he said.
Pricey Harrison voted against the bill, saying now is the time to be cautious.
"The governor is relying on the science and the data and he's got a great team in place and they're watching the trends and the trends are not good in North Carolina," said Rep. Harrison.
King said he hopes the governor will sign the bill into law.
"We're all adults here. These members are adults. I feel like they can make their own decisions. If they're not comfortable coming into the club, I get it, they can stay at home and they will," said King.
Bars, wineries, private clubs, distilleries all fall under businesses that would be allowed to reopen under House Bill 594.
If signed, those establishments would be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity or with a maximum of 100 people, whichever is less. Seating areas would need six feet of separation.
These establishments would also be allowed to use public sidewalks as outdoor seating if their local government gives them permission.