CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The YMCA announced plans to start reopening indoor areas Saturday, a day after Gov. Roy Cooper’s ’Safer at Home’ Phase 2.5 takes effect in North Carolina, which allows gyms and several other establishments to reopen.
Gov. Cooper cited stable coronavirus numbers as the reason the state will move into Phase 2.5 beginning this Friday, Sept. 4 at 5 p.m. Phase 2.5 is effective until Oct. 2, at 5 p.m. Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball etc., may open at 30 percent capacity.
Bowling alleys and skating rinks are considered fitness facilities. They may open under the same capacity limits and rules as fitness facilities.
Playgrounds may open. but the age requirement for mask wearing will include children down to age 5.
“Safer at Home Phase 2.5 continues our state’s dimmer switch approach to easing some restrictions,” Gov. Cooper said. “I want to be clear — we can do this safely only if we keep doing what we know works — wearing masks and social distancing.”
The YMCA plans to reopen in a staggered process at select locations. Some outdoor group exercise options will remain available, along with select indoor and outdoor pools. The outdoor pools will remain open through late September.
The following branches will be open for indoor fitness starting Saturday, September 5:
- Brace Family
- Keith Family
- Lake Norman
Reopening hours will vary by branch.
“While our work has continued and we have been open and operational in various capacities throughout this crisis, we realize that many of our members miss our indoor health and wellness offerings most,” said Todd Tibbits, president and CEO, YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “I’m proud of the work our team has put in to ensure a safe reopening experience for both our members and our team members, and look forward to welcoming our community back through our doors.”
YMCA facilities have been closed since March and the company says they have seen a 40-percent decline in revenue and more than a 50-percent decline in membership and program fees. “As a large non-profit, YMCA of Greater Charlotte did not qualify for Paycheck Protection Program loans, and had a reduction of 12.5 percent of its full-time staff,” the YMCA says.
Like many gyms in North Carolina they expected to be allowed to reopen at some capacity back in May under Phase 1.
The YMCA has offered outdoor fitness, group exercise classes, and indoor and outdoor pool availability at select branches. Branches have also served as testing sites for COVID-19, hosted blood and food drives, and served as a spot for PPE collection and distribution.
“Currently, the organization is serving more than 800 kids through School Days +, which offers a safe and supportive space for remote learning,” YMCA leaders say.
More information on hours of operation and what to expect inside and outside facilities, is available at ymcacharlotte.org.
Phase 2.5 requires fitness facility patrons to wear a face covering at all times when inside the establishment except for when strenuously exercising. Strenuous exercise will vary from person to person. Each individual must assess whether they are performing an exercise that requires such physical exertion that they cannot wear a mask.
Gyms must follow a number of safety protocols including but not limited to, spacing equipment six feet apart, ensuring individuals remain six feet apart during group fitness classes, and implementing various cleaning and sanitation protocols.
Indoor gyms and indoor fitness and exercise facilities may NOT serve additional patrons beyond the 30 percent capacity limit, even if the patron claims medical exception or presents a doctor’s note.
Sports tournaments and entertainment events are allowed at fitness facilities. However, the number of spectators allowed at these events is subject to mass gathering limits.