Gov. Roy Cooper to talk about next phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Triangle gyms reopen under medical loophole as Gov. Roy Cooper expected to discuss next phase of COVID-19 reopening
Gov. Roy Cooper's Office told ABC11 the governor will talk Tuesday about the next steps in reopening North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper's Office told ABC11 the governor will talk Tuesday about the next steps in reopening North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Governor expects to share information about the next phase of easing restrictions tomorrow, which would take effect later this week," according to Cooper's Press Secretary Dory MacMillan.

Gov. Cooper will give a briefing at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

That comes as gyms in the Triangle vowed to use a medical loophole in the COVID-19 restrictions to reopen, despite having been closed for Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan.

Planet Fitness will reopen locations in the Triangle and Triad on September 1. The chain has already reopened a select number of locations in the Wilmington area.

O2 Fitness Clubs also announced a phased reopening. They reopened four clubs in Wilmington and one in Greensboro on Friday and plan to open at least five of their 11 clubs in the Triangle this week, according to President Doug Warf.

Customers at select Crunch Fitness gyms received newsletters saying that they plan to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 1 as well.

Planet Fitness sent this statement:

"At Planet Fitness, the safety of our members and team members is our top priority, and we have begun a thoughtful and phased reopening approach in North Carolina, in accordance with the North Carolina Attorney General's commentary on Executive Order No. 141. We recently reopened a select number of Planet Fitness locations in the Wilmington area and will be reopening additional locations in the Triad and Triangle on September 1, with more to follow. We are taking a number of steps to protect the health and well-being of our staff and members, which include enhanced cleanliness and sanitization policies and procedures, physical distancing measures in our large and spacious clubs, mask mandates, touchless check-in and more. Now more than ever, it's important to stay active in order to stay healthy, and we look forward to safely and responsibly welcoming our members back to Planet Fitness."

O2 Fitness sent this statement:

"O2 Fitness has begun a phased reopening of our North Carolina Clubs in order to serve our members who have been advised by a medical professional to exercise to improve their health. We are reopening thoughtfully, responsibly, and safely. Our clubs will operate with stringent sanitation and social distancing guidelines. Face coverings will be mandatory for everyone, at all times. We will enforce proper social distancing by spacing out our equipment and designated workout areas. Every member will be provided an individual disinfectant spray bottle for use during their visit, and our staff will perform hourly cleaning of high-touch areas and twice-daily sanitation fogging of the entire fitness club. Each member will be required to verify their understanding of and commitment to follow all required safety protocols. Finally, all members will confirm their understanding that our clubs are only open to those who have been advised to exercise by a medical professional to improve their physical and/or mental health. We are confident these measures can keep our members safe. We have had more than 75,000 individual check-ins at our five South Carolina O2 Fitness clubs over the last three months. Following these same strict sanitation and distancing protocols, we have not had a single case of COVID-19 spread associated with our clubs. Our decision to reopen is based on the certain truth that physical fitness is an essential part of every individual's health and well-being. As more is learned about the novel coronavirus every day, it is now clear that physical fitness is absolutely vital in fighting the virus and protecting people from its worst effects.Recent studies have shown that the comorbidities most strongly correlated with COVID-19 hospitalization are obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. All three are diseases that our clubs and our fitness professionals help our members to avoid. Furthermore, obesity almost always reduces the effectiveness of vaccines, and the same will likely be true when a vaccine for the Coronavirus is available. Healthy people have better outcomes."

It is not known what specific restrictions will be discussed Tuesday but North Carolina bars are still waiting for the chance to open their doors

"If we were to close things back up again, I don't know if my store would open back up," said Wesley Alexander, General Manager at Hibernian Pub.

"The businesses are suffering big time," Alexander said about bars and restaurants. "If gyms are opened up and they are successful and we don't think it's going to hurt anything, we certainly hope that would help the argument in moving forward."