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Best Practices – Fitness Facilities

Fitness Facilities are defined as gyms, fitness studios and personal training services. Fitness Facilities are permitted to operate, subject to the applicable guidance issued by the State of California.

(Copy and paste the information below into the “Business/Industry Best Practices” section of your Site Specific Protection Plan)

Workplace Specific Plan

  •  Establish a written, workplace-specific COVID-19 prevention plan at every facility, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas and work tasks, and designate a person at each facility to implement the plan. A Site Specific Protection Plan (SPP) template can be found on our Marin Recovers website.
  • Incorporate the CDPH Face Covering Guidance into the Workplace Specific Plan and include a policy for handling exemptions.
  • Identify contact information for the local health department where the
    facility is located for communicating information about COVID-19
    outbreaks among workers or patrons.
  • Train and communicate with workers and worker representatives on the plan and make the plan available to workers and their representatives.
  • Regularly evaluate the workplace for compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
  • Investigate any COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to risk of infection. Update the plan as needed to prevent further cases.
  • Implement the necessary processes and protocols when a workplace has an outbreak, in accordance with CDPH guidelines.
  • Identify close contacts (within six feet for 15 minutes or more) of an infected worker and take steps to isolate COVID-19 positive worker(s) and close contacts.
  • Adhere to the guidelines below. Failure to do so could result in workplace illnesses that may cause operations to be temporarily closed or limited.

Topics for Worker Training

  • Information on COVID-19, how to prevent it from spreading, and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus.
  • Self-screening at home, including temperature and/or symptom checks using CDC guidelines.
  • The importance of not coming to work:
    • If a worker has symptoms of COVID-19 as described by the CDC, such as a fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, OR
    • If a worker was diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not yet been released from isolation, OR
    • If, within the past 14 days, a worker has had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is considered potentially infectious (i.e. still on isolation).
  • To return to work after a worker receives a COVID-19 diagnosis only if:
    • 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, their symptoms have improved; AND
    • the worker has had no fevers (without the use of fever reducing medications) for the last 24 hours.
    • A worker without symptoms who was diagnosed with COVID-19 can return to work only if 10 days have passed since the date of the first positive COVID-19 test.
  • To seek medical attention if their symptoms become severe, including persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, or bluish lips or face. Updates and further details are available on CDC’s webpage.
  • The importance of frequent handwashing with soap and water, including scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds (or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol (preferred) or 70% isopropanol (if the product is inaccessible to unsupervised children) when workers cannot get to a sink or handwashing station, per CDC guidelines).
  • The importance of physical distancing, both at work and off work time (see Physical Distancing section below).
  • Proper use of face coverings, including:
    • Face coverings do not protect the wearer and are not personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Face coverings can help protect people near the wearer, but do not replace the need for physical distancing and frequent handwashing.
    • Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth.
    • Workers should wash or sanitize hands before and after using or adjusting face coverings.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Face coverings must not be shared and should be washed or discarded after each shift.
  • Information contained in the CDPH Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings, which mandates the circumstances in which face coverings must be worn and the exemptions, as well as any policies, work rules, and practices the employer has adopted to ensure the use of face coverings. Training should also include the employer’s policies on how people who are exempted from wearing a face covering will be handled.
  • Ensure independent contractors, temporary, or contract workers at the facility are also properly trained in COVID-19 prevention policies and have necessary supplies and PPE. Discuss these responsibilities ahead of time with organizations supplying temporary and/or contract workers.
  • Information on paid leave benefits the worker may be entitled to receive that would make it financially easier to stay at home. See additional information on government programs supporting sick leave and workers’ compensation for COVID-19, including workers’ sick leave rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and workers’ rights to workers’ compensation benefits and presumption of the work-relatedness of COVID-19 pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order N-62-20 while that
    Order is in effect.

Individual Control Measures and Screening

  • Provide temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers at the beginning of their shift and any vendors or contractors entering the facility. Make sure the temperature/symptom screener avoids close contact with workers to the extent possible.
  • If requiring self-screening at home, which is an appropriate alternative to providing it at the establishment, ensure that screening was performed prior to the worker leaving the home for their shift and follows CDC guidelines (as described in the Topics for Worker Training section above).
  • Encourage workers who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home.
  • Employers must provide and ensure workers use all required protective equipment, including eye protection and gloves where necessary.
  • Employers should consider where disposable glove use may be helpful to supplement frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer; examples are for workers who are screening others for symptoms or handling commonly touched items.
  • Workers should wash hands on arrival at work, after working with each fitness facility member, after touching their face covering, after using the restroom, and when leaving work.
  • If indoors, workers and patrons must wear face coverings at all times except when showering. Showering at home is encouraged where possible.
  • The CDPH guidance exempts workers and patrons from wearing face coverings while engaged in exercise outdoors, as long as they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
  • If possible, implement a reservation system for the facility. Utilize the reservation system to contact patrons with reservations 24 hours before their scheduled arrival to confirm their reservation and ask if they or someone in their household is exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms. If the patron answers in the affirmative the patron should be reminded that they should only utilize the fitness facility if they do not pose a health risk to other patrons or fitness facility workers. Such communication can be done via app, email, or text, if possible.
  • Patrons should be temperature and/or symptom screened upon arrival and asked to use hand sanitizer and to wear face coverings in accordance with CDPH guidance.
  • Remind patrons in advance to bring a face covering and make them available to anyone who arrives without one, if possible. Fitness
    facilities must take reasonable measures, including posting signage at all entrances and in strategic and highly-visible locations, to remind workers and the public about the use of face coverings and the importance of practicing physical distancing.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

  • Evaluate the existing cleaning and disinfecting protocols for the fitness facility, including reception areas, locker rooms, restrooms, changing areas, and showers and update the cleaning protocols where necessary.
  • Fitness facilities should be prepared to:
    • Develop a detailed schedule and adjust or modify operating hours to provide adequate time for regular, thorough cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day.
    • Perform thorough cleaning throughout the day in high traffic areas, such as reception and lobby areas, changing rooms, locker rooms, and break rooms and areas of ingress and egress including stairways, stairwells, escalators, handrails, and elevator controls.
    • Frequently disinfect commonly used surfaces, including personal exercise machines and equipment, countertops, vending machines, doorknobs, and hand washing facilities.
    • Provide time for workers to implement cleaning practices during their shift. Cleaning assignments should be assigned during working hours as part of the workers’ job duties.
    • Make sure all workers have been trained to use and have an adequate supply of all-purpose cleaners and disinfectants, when
      needed. Follow the complete CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. Follow Cal/OSHA requirements and manufacturer
      instructions for safe use and required personal protective equipment for cleaning products.
    • Workers should have enough ventilation (air flow) in areas where they are disinfecting. If cleaning in a bathroom or other small space, make sure the door and windows are propped open.
    • Clean HVAC intakes and returns daily.
    • Workers should be supplied with first aid supplies, including bandages or other items to cover any cuts, scratches, or open wounds on skin and have sufficient supply to change the bandages often.
    • Patrons should be reminded to maintain six feet of distance from janitorial or custodial workers. Implement a process to regularly check in with workers to ensure visitors are following this protocol. Ensure workers are able to share such information without fear of reprisal or retaliation.
    • Procure options for third-party cleaning companies to assist with the increased cleaning demand, as needed.
  • Equip entrances and exits, exercise machines, fitness rooms, changing rooms and locker rooms, and other areas with proper sanitation products, including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, and provide personal hand sanitizers to workers who regularly engage with patrons (e.g., reception workers).
  • Require patrons to disinfect individual exercise equipment, mats, and machines before and after use with provided disinfecting wipes. Ensure that lined, non-touch trash receptacles are available throughout the fitness facility to dispose of used wipes.
  • If members are unable or unwilling to wipe/disinfect equipment after exercise, provide “ready to clean” tags for members to place on equipment after use, to ensure equipment is disinfected before the next use.
  • Consider implementing a check-out system for patrons to utilize any small equipment and accessories (i.e. exercise bands, ropes, mats, foam rollers, etc.). Develop a process to clean and disinfect these items upon return.
  • Follow CDC guidelines to ensure that all water systems are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
  • Wherever possible, install touchless, automatic water dispensers for use with personal, reusable water bottles or single-use, disposable paper cups. Display signage reminding workers and patrons that the bottle or cup should not touch the water dispenser. If a touchless water dispenser is not feasible, remind workers and patrons to wash their hands or use proper hand sanitizer before and after touching the water release button on drinking fountains.
  • Encourage patrons to bring their own towels and mats and consider disbanding the provision of any facility-provided towels or personal hygiene products.
  • For any towels, cloth wipes, or other laundered items that are used at the facility, follow CDC guidelines for those items. Provide a closed container where patrons can place used towels or other items. Ensure those items cannot be used again until properly laundered either by a commercial laundering service or a laundering process which includes immersion in water of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 25 minutes. Store all clean linens in a clean, covered place. Ensure workers who handle dirty linens or laundry wear gloves.
  • Amenities, including magazines, books, self-serve water stations (unless touchless), and other items for patrons, must be removed from reception areas and elsewhere in the fitness facility. Non-essential vanity items should also be removed from locker rooms to help reduce touch points.
  • Workers and patrons should avoid shaking hands, bumping fists or elbows, and other physical contact. Workers should also avoid sharing tools,phones, electronics, and office supplies as much as possible and, where feasible, ensure workers have dedicated workstations for their personal use. Never share PPE.
  • When choosing disinfecting chemicals, employers should use products approved for use against COVID-19 on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved list and follow product instructions. Use disinfectants labeled to be effective against emerging viral pathogens, diluted household bleach solutions (5 tablespoons per gallon of water), or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol that are appropriate for the surface. Provide workers training on the chemical hazards, manufacturer’s directions, ventilation requirements, and Cal/OSHA requirements for safe use. Workers using cleaners or disinfectants should wear gloves and other protective equipment as required by the product. Follow the asthma-safer cleaning methods recommended by the California Department of Public Health and ensure proper ventilation.
  • Where possible, do not clean floors by sweeping or other methods that can disperse pathogens into the air. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter wherever possible.
  • Consider installing portable high-efficiency air cleaners, upgrading the building’s air filters to the highest efficiency possible, and making other modifications to increase the quantity of outside air and ventilation in offices and other spaces.
  • Place signage throughout the fitness facility emphasizing basic infection prevention measures, including the importance of wearing
    face coverings and frequent handwashing.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between and among workers and patrons. This can include use of physical partitions or visual cues (e.g., floor markings, colored tape, or signs to indicate to where workers and/or patrons should stand during check-in at reception areas or when waiting to use equipment).
  • Space equipment at least six feet apart, with greater distancing for treadmills and other high-exertion aerobic fitness equipment. Equipment can be arranged in an “X” pattern to provide greater distancing. Physical barriers can also be helpful to minimize exposure between patrons or segregate exercise areas.
  • Equip the front desk area with Plexiglas or other impermeable barriers, if feasible, to minimize the interaction between reception workers and patrons. Implement virtual, touchless check-in tools, if possible, so that patrons do not have to utilize the reception space.
  • Consider suspending non-core activities, including retail operations,spa services, childcare, family programming, and food service. If fitness facilities operate such amenities, they should review the related guidance for these services on the COVID-19 Resilience Roadmap website.
  • Consider implementing special hours designated for high risk or medically-vulnerable populations, including seniors with admittance by reservation only.
  • Evaluate maximum occupancy rules based on the size of the facility to develop a capacity plan that supports physical distancing and limits the number of patrons allowed in the facility at a given time to a number permitting such distancing. Other considerations to support physical distancing in the facility for patrons could include:
    • Implementing an online reservation-based system, as suggested in the Individual Control Measures and Screening section of this document, to avoid patrons queuing in the facility or outside and help maintain occupancy levels.
    • Limiting the number of patrons in the facility at one time. Only those patrons that are actually exercising should be inside the facility. Patrons should not wait in the reception area.
    • Using one-way foot traffic patterns throughout the fitness facility with visual cues and signs.
    • Removing communal furniture and/or cordoning off member lounge areas.
    • Staggering available lockers in locker rooms to maintain physical distancing.
    • Spacing all equipment and machines at least six feet apart or taking some out of service to achieve physical distancing.
    • Adjusting personal training so that the exercise instructor maintains a minimum of six feet of physical distance.
    • Modifying group training classes to limit the class size to ensure a minimum of six feet of physical distance between patrons and/or move the classes outdoors or to larger spaces like full-sized basketball courts, if possible. Group exercise classes should only be offered if distancing requirements can be maintained and there is no person-to-person physical contact.
  • High contact programs that require close contact less than six feet in distance should be suspended. This would include activities such as group sporting events, organized intermural activities, pick-up basketball, or organized races.
  • Adjust in-person meetings for workers, if they are necessary, to ensure physical distancing and use virtual options or smaller meetings at facilities to maintain physical distancing guidelines.
  • Consider offering workers who request modified duties options that minimize their contact with patrons and other workers (e.g.,
    managing administrative needs through telework).
  • Stagger worker breaks, in compliance with wage and hour regulations, to maintain physical distancing protocols.
  • Close breakrooms, use barriers, or increase distance between tables/chairs to separate workers and discourage congregating during breaks. Where possible, create outdoor break areas with shade covers and seating that ensures physical distancing.

Additional Considerations for Communal
Restrooms and Shower Facilities

  • Fitness facilities should consider staffing and other capacity and resource needs to ensure that locker rooms and shower facilities can be cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day.
  • Shared restroom facilities and locker rooms should be cleaned regularly throughout the day using EPA-registered disinfectants. High-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches must be frequently cleaned and disinfected.
  • Create and post a cleaning schedule for the restroom facilities and locker rooms. Post the cleaning schedule on the front of the door so patrons know when they can/cannot use the restroom and/or locker room. Make sure to close the restroom during the cleaning and disinfecting process.
  • Consider using a checklist or audit system to track how often cleaning is conducted.
  • Only allow shower and locker room use if partitions are in place or signs have been posted to specify physical distancing requirements. If partitions or proper distancing are not possible, these facilities should remain closed.
  • Ensure that sanitary facilities stay operational and are continuously stocked at all times. Provide additional soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer when needed. Install hands-free devices, if possible, including motion sensor sinks faucets, soap dispensers, sanitizer dispensers, and paper towel dispensers.
  • Doors to multi-stall restrooms should be able to be opened and closed without touching the handles, using opening-devices, or powered door operators with the hand, whenever possible. If the door cannot be opened without touching the handle or door-operator with the hand, place a trash-receptacle by the door to ensure a paper towel can be readily disposed of when operating the door. The location and positioning of waste receptacles should not interfere with egress, evacuation, emergency equipment, or any reasonable accommodations provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Make sure trash cans are emptied regularly.
  • Fitness facility patrons should be instructed that sinks could be an infection source and should avoid placing hairbrushes and other items directly on counter surfaces. Totes could also be used for personal items to limit their contact with other surfaces in the restroom or locker room.
  • Provide information on how to wash hands properly, including hanging signs in restrooms.
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