February 3, 2021
The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor, State of California State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Newsom:
We are writing with a request that you modify your COVID-19 Blueprint for a Safe Economy, as the current Limited Stay-Home Order is lifted in each region, to permit indoor operations for health clubs, gyms and fitness centers, at a reasonable level in every tier. Data has demonstrated that fitness centers, in compliance with the stringent public health orders and restrictions previously imposed on these essential businesses by the state and local public health officers and your office, can operate safely1. Data and science support the need to give all Californians safe and equitable access to exercise for physical and mental health and to help minimize impact of COVID-192.
Evidenced-based data must be our guide when determining what policies are truly necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19. We also strongly believe that as new evidence emerges that run contrary to existing policies, we must adjust those policies. In the case of the current Blueprint restrictions on indoor operations for gyms and fitness centers, the evidence demonstrates a course correction is necessary now.
Nearly every other state has concluded upon actual experience and data gathered since last spring, there is no evidence that gyms and fitness centers operating in compliance with masking, distancing, and sanitizing requirements represent any significant transmission risk for COVID-19. As a result, fitness centers are now allowed to operate indoors in all tiers in all states except California3.
As you have said, fitness is essential in building and maintaining resistance to COVID and improving both physical and mental health, and we think you are right to urge Californians to make it a priority to get regular physical exercise. For most Californians, the fitness industry provides affordable and safe access to regular exercise as most Californians can’t afford a home gym and the cold and rain make working out outside challenging. Closing indoor gyms makes access and continued fitness business operations a practical impossibility.
We understand that the California fitness industry, which employed more than 190,000 California workers pre-COVID, has been substantially without revenues for nearly a year as a result of full and partial closures mandated by state and local orders4. Several major companies have been forced out of business or into bankruptcy, few were eligible for any state or Federal economic relief, and nearly every worker has been furloughed or laid-off for months, some permanently. These businesses large and small now appear to be close to the point of no return.
For all of these reasons, we urge you to reconsider and revise upward the indoor operating occupancy restrictions for safe operation of gyms and fitness centers in all four Blueprint tiers and permit reopening in the Purple Tier at no less than 25% occupancy to ensure the survival of these essential California health and wellness businesses and access for millions of Californians who rely on them.
Thurston “Smitty” Smith
Assemblymember, 33rd District
Senator, 1st District
Asssemblymember, 44th District
Senator, 4th District
Assemblymember, 73rd District
Assemblymember, 1st District
Senator, 28th District
Senator, 21st District
Assemblymember, 63rd District
Assemblymember, 27th District
Assemblymember, 34th District
Assemblymember, 72nd District
Assemblymember, 35th District
Assemblymember, 67th District
Assemblymember, 12th District
Assemblymember, 3rd District
Assemblymember, 71st District
Assemblymember, 23rd District
Assemblymember, 5th District
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services
Tomás Aragón, Director, Department of Public Health
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General
Angel Banos, CFA Advisory Board Member
Cory Brightwell, CFA Advisory Board Member
Don Dickerson, CFA Advisory Board Member
Randy Karr, CFA Advisory Board Member
Francesca Schuler, CFA Advisory Board Member
Marc Thomas, CFA Advisory Board Member
Shannon Walpole, CFA Advisory Board Member
1 University of Oregon Study, December 2020
2 Mayo Clinic Proceedings – January 2020
3 Salem Stateman Journal January 26, 2021
4 California Fitness Alliance