Gyms in New Jersey allowed to reopen at 25% capacity on Sept. 1, masks required

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Gyms and health clubs in New Jersey can reopen at 25% capacity from their COVID-19 pause starting Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

Murphy, a Democrat, said the change had been "a long time coming," but was on hold because indoor facilities presented risks for the spread of the virus.

The change also applies to indoor amusement facilities, he said.

Billy Olsen, CEO of 18 Planet Fitness gyms in New Jersey, says members will see increased sanitation protocols, spaced out machines and a contactless check in system. He also says they could've done this a while ago.

"It's been a drain not only financially, it's been a drain psychologically not to be able to operate and not necessarily knowing the metrics," said Olson.

Still, he's grateful to be making the step forward.

"You're going to see some things different. It'll give you more confidence, more spacing. At the same time, you're also going to feel like you can get a great workout," said Olsen.

The decision to keep gyms closed has been a contentious one. Owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr have been open, despite having their license revoked and being issued $130,000 in fines, arguing the decision to shut down gyms violates their constitutional rights.

"I know there have been a few knuckleheads who have been more interested in their own celebrity than in working with us to defeat the virus but they are thankfully overwhelmingly outnumbered by the good guys and gals," said Murphy.

There were about 300 new positive cases reported overnight, Murphy said, putting the total at over 190,000. There were 11 deaths reported overnight, putting the toll at 14,134, he added.

The rate of transmission, which measures how many people one infected person passes the virus to, fell to 0.8 from 0.83.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.
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