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The Arizona Department of Health Services has approved a reopening plan for more than 20 gyms in the Phoenix area operated by EoS Fitness. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)

The Arizona Department of Health Services has approved a reopening plan for more than 20 gyms in the Phoenix area operated by EoS Fitness.

The gyms will be some of the first to open their doors after the state announced a number of health benchmarks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and guide the reopening of certain businesses.

When the benchmarks were announced on Aug. 10, the spread of COVID-19 in Maricopa County was “substantial” by state guidelines and had not slowed to a safe threshold for opening gyms. Still, the state said it would consider plans for reopening that followed stricter safety policies than will be required when the benchmarks are met.

The approved plan for EoS Fitness centers includes limiting occupancy to about 100 members, or 10% capacity. Saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs and basketball courts — places where people are likely to come in close contact — will stay closed, according to the company’s website. The gyms will have water refill stations as opposed to drinking fountains, and will space exercise equipment at least six feet apart.

EoS Fitness said it would not hold group fitness classes until the spread of COVID-19 is downgraded to “moderate” in Maricopa County, per the health department benchmarks.

While EoS gyms in Utah and Nevada are also open, California locations remain closed.

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Gym owners have been some of the most vocal opponents to Gov. Doug Ducey’s health restrictions during the pandemic, with a handful of companies challenging the closure orders in court. A legal challenge from the parent company of EoS was consolidated into a lawsuit issued by Mountainside Fitness in July.

Last week, four Phoenix and Scottsdale fitness facilities that reopened despite state orders received notices from the department ordering them to shut down.

MORE: Standoff between some Arizona gyms, Gov. Doug Ducey intensifies

“We know COVID-19 has been a real challenge for many businesses, and we understand the impact these public health measures have,” the health department said in a statement. “Our commitment is to keep Arizonans as healthy and safe as possible, and we appreciate business owners’ patience and cooperation throughout this pandemic.”

As of Friday, 95 bars, 89 gyms and five movie theaters had submitted proposals for reopening, according to a health department spokesperson.

The state said it was working quickly to review the applications, and had so far approved two plans — for EoS Fitness and Training for Warriors – Estrella in Goodyear — and denied four.

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Reach the reporter at [email protected] or on Twitter @helenwieffering.

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