Some North Carolina chain gyms say they will open Tuesday, citing medical loophole

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RALEIGH (WTVD) — After a long six months, many chain-North Carolina gyms say they plan to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as Tuesday, citing a medical loophole that other gyms in the state have used since the start of the pandemic to remain open despite Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order keeping them closed.

Customers at select Planet Fitness and Crunch Fitness gyms received similar newsletters saying that they plan to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The companies referenced a letter from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein sent out in early June that says gyms can be used for medical purposes.

The two chain gyms made it clear that they only plan to serve members with “a medical need to exercise.” However, the gyms will not require medical documentation at check-in to respect “personal privacy.”

Governor Roy Cooper has not given gyms the green light to reopen. Phase Two is extended until Sept. 11. Gyms were set to reopen under Phase Three which would also allow for the reopening of bars and entertainment venues.

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In a briefing last week, NCDHHS Dr. Mandy Cohen said gyms should not be open because “it is a place for more viral transmission.”

“Even if your gym is open, which it should not be, the reason we are concerned about gyms is when you are exercising, you are breathing heavier. We know it is a place for more viral transmission,” Cohen said on Tuesday. “Gyms are not supposed to be open.”

Other gyms in the state have reopened using the loophole since Cooper’s original executive order closing businesses in March.

O2 Fitness in North Carolina, however, stated on Thursday they have begun a phased reopening after previously claiming that there is no evidence that fitness facilities contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

“O2 Fitness has begun a phased reopening of our North Carolina Clubs in order to serve our members who have been advised by a medical professional to exercise to improve their health. We are reopening thoughtfully, responsibly, and safely,” the gym wrote in a statement.

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