Philadelphia Fitness Coalition protesting restrictions on city gyms amid coronavirus pandemic

Philadelphia COVID-19 live updates, news and information
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than two dozen gyms in Philadelphia are joining forces, demanding that the city allows them to reopen.

They have created the Philadelphia Fitness Coalition and have gathered more than 1,500 signatures in opposition to the new restrictions.

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, the city required gyms to shut down indoor activities at the end of last week.

But gym owners say it is unfair because of the safety precautions they have put in place.

The coalition gathered Tuesday outside of City Hall, asking for a meeting with Mayor Jim Kenney.

They say they provide an essential service in the health and wellness industry and should be allowed to remain open.

"The mayor has cut off the number one tool our community uses to maintain their mental and physical wellness. If this continues it will be a deathblow to an already decimated industry, eliminating jobs and income for thousands of employees," Gavin McKay of Unite Fitness said.

The group of more than 30 studios says they want permission to continue operating - even if it means following even stricter guidelines and safety protocols.

Last week, the city's top health official, Dr. Thomas Farley, defended the city's decision to tighten restrictions, saying now is the riskiest time for the transmission of the virus.

"What was now safe is now dangerous with the change in the weather. Many businesses feel they put safety measures in place, sure they have, and I'm sure there's no spread there and that's true in many places. Remember, there are more people than ever with the virus," said Farley.

City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations.

On Tuesday, health officials confirmed an additional 1,077 cases of COVID-19. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 61,780.

The Department of Public Health confirmed seven additional fatalities in Philadelphia. This brings the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in the city to 1,960.

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