VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Some gym owners are pushing back against Washington’s new lockdown restrictions.
Governor Jay Inslee announced a new set of statewide restrictions earlier this week aimed to slow the resurgence of COVID-19. Beginning Tuesday and lasting four weeks, most businesses must close their indoor services, including fitness facilities and gyms.
Sherri McMillan is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She told KOIN 6 News her gym has already taken a big financial hit and some local gyms have had to permanently close.
McMillan believes fitness centers should be allowed to operate with restrictions because gyms already have good HVAC systems. Northwest Personal Training has had no positive COVID-19 cases, according to McMillan, who added that staff members are able to ensure everyone wears face coverings and enforce physical distancing.
McMillan is on the board of the Washington Fitness Alliance, which authored an open letter to the governor asking him to immediately reconsider the closure of gyms.
“We’re doing a good job of managing our safety protocols and we feel like we’re being treated for whatever reason unfairly,” McMillan said.
Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor of infectious disease at the University of Washington, said he agrees with many of McMillan’s points regarding gyms operating safely.
“I think one of the things about gyms that makes them safer than some other businesses is the ability to make sure everyone covers their face at all times,” he said. “You can’t do that in a restaurant but in a gym you probably can.”
But Pottinger ultimately thinks the governor made the right decision in taking what he calls “drastic” action in the state of Washington.
“I think the governor’s decision to close down so many businesses is very understandable. I actually support it because we in healthcare are just being crushed and while my personal opinion is that most gyms can operate safely, I totally understand where this comes from,” he said. “These are drastic measures for a drastic situation. This is catastrophic. We have so many people dying of the infection and it’s spreading. We need to do something drastic.”
Pottinger and McMillan both touched on the health benefits of exercise with the former encouraging people to exercise along and outdoors if they don’t have gyms.
KOIN 6 News has reached out to the Department of Health and is waiting for a response.