Legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy permitted gyms and health clubs, as well as amusement and water parks, to reopen their indoor premises to the public on Sept. 1 provided these facilities comply with the health and safety standards issued by the Department of Health.
“Gyms are among the most-challenging indoor environments to prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” said Governor Murphy. “Given where we are in this fight and the overwhelming personal responsibility demonstrated by gym owners and gym members over the past several months, we can confidently take this important step on our road back.”
“Exercise is very important for the body and the mind, but it needs to be done in a healthy environment to protect not only those in the facility, but the community at large,“ said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Given the potential for transmission indoors, this guidance provides strict guidelines for staff and customers to follow closely to stay healthy while enjoying their workout or class.”
Guidelines for gyms to reopen include limited occupancy of any indoor premises to 25 percent, temperature checks before entering, limiting group activity, workers and customers required to wear face coverings, social distancing and bringing personal equipment including towels, yoga mats, water and boxing gloves.
Partial indoor dining also began in New Jersey on Friday, Sept. 4. Customers are able to enjoy meals inside restaurants at 25% capacity. Murphy made the announcement about indoor dining on Aug. 31.
“Our goal is to ensure this step is done properly,” Murphy said. “We all know this pandemic isn’t over yet.”
Tables at restaurants are spread 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing, groups are limited to eight patrons per table and those seated at bars are limited to four.
While opening partial indoor dining is welcoming news to restaurant owners some say, 25% is not enough to recover from being closed for so long.
“Many restaurants operate on narrow profit margins and only had a few months of cash reserves, so while loans and grants extended that, it has gone on so long that some had to close for good,” said National Federation of Independent Business New Jersey State director Eileen Kean. “Mostly those with savings, or who owned a building and didn’t have pay rent have lasted to this point. But they will only survive if they are safely able to increase to 50% and hopefully full capacity in short order.”