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'It's my livelihood and it's my coaches' livelihood': Gym owners weigh in on possibility of closing again

Central District Health will discuss on Tuesday whether gyms will be shut down again as coronavirus rates continue to rise in Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — Update: On Friday, Central District Health removed proposed gym restrictions from consideration. It was removed due to gyms not being significant sources of transmission.

During a virtual meeting earlier this week, Central District Health discussed that Ada County is still in the "red" zone, meaning community spread is significant in the area.

About 45 minutes into the board meeting, board member Dr. Ted Epperly suggested additional precautionary measures for the county.

"What I'd like for us to absolutely consider is, do we need to do more?" Epperly said. "We could consider draft language, have it come back at the next meeting so the public could see this, but in particular what I would bring up is decreasing community groups to less than 10 and the consideration for closing gyms."

Prior to that statement, Dr. Epperly mentioned the coronavirus report card the white house issued several weeks ago on all 50 states. Epperly said the report suggested further restrictions under state reopening guidelines for businesses and gathering sizes, specifically for Idaho, which is currently in the red zone.

Bars and nightclubs in Ada County have been closed for six weeks after CDH moved Ada County back into Stage 3 of Idaho's reopening plan. 

However, gym owners are now concerned with the possibility of their facilities being forced to close. Several gyms in the area have sent out notices to their members asking them to express their displeasure to CDH.

Axiom Fitness, one of the largest local gyms in the valley, sent this notice to their members:

"We are asking for your help in letting the Board know that we do not support the idea of closing gyms. A healthy immune system and mental health have been proven to help fight disease. We have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide all of you with the safest environment possible and we do not believe that gyms are the problem. In fact, we are part of the solution."

Taylor Bateman has owned an indoor training center for about 10 years, the last two in an 11,000 square-foot facility in Meridian.

When Gov. Little issued the statewide stay at home order in March, gyms were not considered essential and weren't part of the reopening plan until Stage 2 began in May. During the six weeks gyms were closed, Bateman said he lost $30,000.

If he is forced to shut down again, he may not be able to handle the expenses without clients visiting the facility.

"I'm not saying yes or no right now, but I'm not gonna do it. It's my livelihood and it's my coaches' livelihood," Bateman said. "Garage doors are open all the time, I'm paying for handwashing stations, we've reorganized the whole gym. I think we're taking every precaution we can, we feel like we're being safe. I just don't see how there are more pros for us shutting down than cons."

His clients are in support of him remaining open should another mandate force them to close. However, he has not made an official decision at this time.

CDH is scheduled to hold another board meeting at 4 p.m on August 11. A final decision regarding gyms will be made at that time.

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