Gyms partially reopening

Published 6:32 pm Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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Some Beaufort County gyms have opened ahead of Gov. Roy Cooper’s schedule and are taking extra precautionary measures to ensure the health of their customers.

According to local officials, gyms, among other businesses, will not be ordered to close if they decide to reopen prior to the implementation of Phase III of the state’s three-phase plan that would open the remainder of businesses.

Gym owners were prepared to reopen during Phase II, however, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced May 20, the reopening of gyms, dojos, bars, movie theatres, bowling alleys and dance studios among others would be postponed for at least five to six more weeks, stating at the time that indoor activities could heighten the spread of COVID-19.

In response, a lawsuit was filed against Cooper on behalf of some of those businesses.

Two weeks later, many businesses that were closed down are reopening, though not all aspects of their businesses will be available at first.

Washington City Manager Jonathan Russell said the City of Washington would not force anybody who reopens their business to close again.

“We are sympathetic with business owners. A lot of people are struggling right now in their financial situations. As long as they’re taking the necessary steps and limiting the number of people in facilities, the health department and other agencies are involved with that, but the city is focusing our resources elsewhere on limiting criminal activity and things of that nature,” Russell said. “As far as regulating business operations, we’ve taken a step back on that based on any COVID recommendations.”

Beaufort County’s Health Department Director Jim Madson echoed Russell’s comments.

“We don’t do any enforcing of the laws,” Madson said. “We’ve been contacted by different organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to give our input on the re-openings, so we provided guidance in accordance to the governor’s executive order as well as general guidelines. We want to be hyper-vigilant about safety.”

Athletic Edge owner Laura Horton said she believes physical and mental health is essential.

“Athletic Edge understands how important exercise and proper nutrition is to keep one’s immune system healthy and thriving. We believe that fitness and sports centers are essential to the physical and mental health of our citizens,” Horton said. “Therefore, Athletic Edge has implemented many new safety guidelines and has applied additional precautions to help prevent the spread of the corona virus. For example, we are planning to reopen in phases to ensure safety protocols are being followed with fidelity. Our fitness center is currently open, and our new sports center will reopen later this month. The health and safety of each individual is our No. 1 priority.”