Arizona court rules gyms should have opportunity to reopen

Fitness centers must be provided a prompt opportunity to apply for reopening, the decision from the judge said.

PHOENIX — Editor’s note: The above video is from an Aug. 3 newscast

An Arizona judge ruled Tuesday that gyms should have the opportunity to reopen. 

Mountainside Fitness and EOS Fitness were plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gyms are set to be closed until at least Aug. 10 after Ducey extended executive orders that closed gyms, movie theaters, bars, water parks and tubing.

On June 29, Ducey said those businesses in the state must close until at least July 27.

On July 23, Ducey extended the closure for another two weeks where the closures would then be reviewed again with another two-week extension or a lift of the order.

“The Executive Orders, as implemented, violate procedural due process,” the ruling from Judge Timothy Thomason reads. “As set forth above, fitness centers must be provided a prompt opportunity to apply for reopening. The process for doing so must be in place within one week from the date of entry of this Order. The Executive Orders, however, do not violate substantive due process.

“We are reviewing the order. Our focus is on protecting public health, and working with the private sector on how and when to safely reopen,” a spokesperson for Ducey’s office told 12 News.

Mountainside Fitness had previously filed for a restraining order against Ducey’s initial June 29 orders, but lost the decision.

RELATED: Judge denies Mountainside Fitness’ restraining order against Ducey’s gym shutdown

A judge last month also ruled against Xponential Fitness after the company sued the state over Ducey’s executive order.

RELATED: Judge rules against Xponential Fitness in lawsuit against Arizona over shutdown order

Will Humble, the former Arizona Department of Health Services director, was a witness for Mountainside Fitness. He said with proper procedures, gyms could mitigate the risks of spreading the virus.

For Humble, the evidence points to gyms not being in the same class as bars or nightclubs.

“Not risk-free, not risk-free. I’m not saying that. But it certainly is not in the same risk category as a bar or a nightclub.” Humble said. “I do think the benefits of opening that facility outweigh the risks.”

Current state health director, Dr. Cara Christ, testified for the state and disagrees. 

“The risk is really with the type of activity that they are doing and the intensity of breathing. And so that is what makes it very different than being in a grocery store or a hardware store.“ Dr. Christ said. 

In short, Christ said those going to the gym are likely to be younger, in the demographic most likely to show no symptoms of the disease. This coupled with intense breathing during a work out makes it easier for the virus to spread.  

“We know even if the guidelines are followed there is a higher inherent risk when you are exercising for the transmission of COVID-19,” Christ said. 

Christ said while masks and social distancing help reduce the spread of the virus, it will not eliminate it. 

Humble acknowledges gyms could become a breeding ground without things like masks, and social distancing. However, with those guidelines in place, the risk can be reduced to the level where the benefits of opening gyms outweigh the risks.

Mountainside Fitness announced plans to reopen gyms on August 11.

RELATED: Is it safe to go to the gym during the coronavirus pandemic?

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