After struggling to make ends meet during a nearly three-month coronavirus closure, Gina Martinez will reopen her Orcutt gym Anytime Fitness to the public Friday, following the announcement of new Santa Barbara County guidelines.
After closely examining local COVID-19 metrics, the county Public Health Department approved the Stage 3 reopening of not only gyms but bars, wineries, hotels, campgrounds, movie theaters, museums, schools and day camps as soon as Friday.
The metrics included tracking overall case numbers, the number of deaths over a 14-day period and hospitalization rates.
After implementing required safety precautions that include hand sanitizer stations and a 7-foot distance between ellipticals and treadmills, Martinez will be able to resume limited in-person trainings along with opening the space to individual patrons.
"We're open 24/7, so we'll be able to open midnight on Friday morning. People are already booking time slots," Martinez said with a smile.
After a slower reopening process over the last month, with one or two sectors approved at a time, Wednesday's health order is the largest reopening step taken by the county since closures began in mid-March.
Neighboring San Luis Obispo County also approved the reopening of the same sectors, effective Friday.
Santa Barbara County businesses in the approved sectors wishing to reopen or remain open are required to complete an attestation on the county's website, certifying their ability to meet certain safety requirements outlined by the California Department of Public Health.
They include requirements for social distancing, screening procedures, extra employee training, frequent sanitation and limited in-house capacity.
Martinez said she already was following reopening guidelines released by the Anytime Fitness franchise, so she was prepared to begin filling out paperwork on recoverysbc.org once the county posted industry-specific rules.
While some of the state-outlined regulations matched what she already had in place, some were a surprise, such as the requirement for masks to be worn by both staff and visitors using the gym.
"One of the big questions that I've been getting is whether we have to wear masks, and the answer is, 'Yes.' ... I told people I don't want to be mask police, so please wear a mask," Martinez said.
Staff will also have to vacate visitors from the gym every two hours in order to briefly sanitize surfaces, she said.
Wednesday's health order will remain in effect until June 30 or until lifted earlier by Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.
Industries still not permitted to reopen include indoor playgrounds, live theaters, saunas and steam rooms, nightclubs, concert and festival venues, theme parks, and personal services such as nail salons, waxing services and tattoo parlors.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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