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The Arizona Department of Health Services has given the OK for dozens of gyms, bars and theaters to reopen after reviewing their plans to limit the spread of COVID-19 at their businesses. (Photo: David Wallace/The Republic)

The Arizona Department of Health Services has given the OK for dozens of gyms, bars and theaters to reopen after reviewing their plans to limit the spread of COVID-19 at their businesses.

The green light was given to two movie theaters, 31 fitness centers and five bars, though some of the businesses, like EoS Fitness, run multiple locations.

Last week, Gov. Doug Ducey and DHS unveiled complex new guidelines regarding when those businesses can reopen based on the rate coronavirus is spreading in a given county.

Counties are rated in one of three categories for community spread — substantial, moderate and minimal — and the less community spread, the more businesses can be open and the more guests they can welcome.

The plans also include the ability of businesses to apply to reopen with special precautions, and more than 600 companies shut down by the governor’s June 29 order have done so.

More approvals are likely each day as DHS reviews those applications.

“ADHS staff are reviewing them as quickly as possible,” spokesman Steve Elliott said.

Six businesses were denied their applications to reopen but can appeal, he said.

Some businesses ready, some not

The Village Health Clubs have been eager to bring people back in, said President Carol Nalevanko, so the approval from DHS for all four Phoenix-area locations is welcome news.

The company has locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler.

The tennis centers, spas and salons remained open after Ducey’s closure order, and now the fitness centers can reopen and more of the 900 employees can return to work.

The company spend about $120,000 on air-purifying systems at its facilities and will limit capacity to keep guests and workers safe, Nalevanko said.

“We have quite a reduction in our actual membership,” she said. “Some members are afraid to come. Some no longer are able to come.”

She said her company has been trying to communicate with DHS that gyms are safe, citing industry data that shows low COVID-19 infection rates among gym users nationwide.

“It shows you can run health clubs safely,” she said. “Putting us always in with bars is hurtful to our industry. We view our industry as a place to come be healthy and fit. Absent a vaccine, the best way to avoid getting COVID-19 is to strengthen your immune system and be healthy.”

Not only will the fitness centers take guests’ temperatures when they arrive, but if a guest turns out to get COVID-19, the Village can use its member check-in system to notify other members who might have been exposed, she said.

“We can do some contact tracing with employees and members,” she said, adding that the clubs have used that capability for one or two times when a member has reported testing positive for COVID-19.