Clarification on Fitness Centers
The Governor signed Executive Order 181 on August 27, 2020. The Executive Order authorized the reopening of the indoor premises of health clubs, including gyms and fitness centers. These health clubs were allowed to open so long as those facilities adopt minimum specified health and safety requirements. You can read about this Order on our blog, here.
Executive Order 181 states: “’Health Clubs,’ as defined by N.J.S.A. 56:8-39, which include gyms and fitness centers, as well as amusement and water parks, can open their indoor premises as of 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 . . .” Health Clubs in accordance with this statute are defined as set forth below:
“Health club” means an establishment which devotes or will devote 40% or more of its square footage to providing services or facilities for the preservation, maintenance, encouragement or development of physical fitness or physical well-being. The term includes an establishment designated as “reducing salon,” “health spa,” “spa,” “exercise gym,” “health studio,” “health club,” or by other terms of similar import.
Health Clubs are further restricted by the statutes that govern them. As a general interpretation, the Executive Order only applies if the community is considered a Health Club as defined in the applicable statute.
The Department of Health published Guidance for Health Clubs/Gyms/Fitness Centers, totaling six (6) pages. The first sentence of the Department of Health Regulations state: “Per Executive Order 181, health clubs/gyms or other fitness centers, as well as recreational businesses that offer fitness classes and activities, must follow the criteria listed below.” This seems to indicate that the Department of Health is either attempting to extend the applicability of the Executive Order, or is providing guidance for all fitness centers, in light of possible future changes or clarifications to the Executive Order.
Up until this point, it was a wonder as to whether a fitness center located in community associations and landlords were considered Health Clubs.
Clarification by way of Administrative Order
Executive Order 181 grants “the State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of the State Police. . . the discretion to make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions and exclusions to the terms of that Order.”
Well, that’s exactly what happened. The Director of Emergency Management, upon various requests, provided a clarification by way of an Administrative Order, Executive Order 2020-21. This Order contains only two paragraphs, summarized below:
- Health Club facilities located in hotels, motels, condominiums, cooperatives, corporate offices, or other business facilities may open their indoor premises. Those that are open to the public (not only residents, guests, and employees, but also the public) must follow Paragraph 1 of the Executive Order and the DOH Order.
- This Order shall take effect immediately.
While we would like to believe that community associations and landlords can breathe a sigh of relief, that is not necessarily true. Simply because you can open and that you are not required to follow the rules, does not mean that all liability is avoided.
Community associations and landlords should follow as many of the Department of Health Guidelines as possible, especially if those Guidelines are practicable under the circumstances. We understand that not all gyms are alike, but community associations and landlords must protect themselves from lawsuits, especially considering that you still do not have insurance. Further, the community associations and landlords must still follow all relevant Executive Orders and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance, such as the limitations on indoor gatherings, face coverings, cleaning practices, social distancing and more. Consider following as many Department of Health and CDC Guidelines as you can for safety and liability purposes.
The information in this Client Alert is provided solely for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based upon particular circumstances. Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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In the event that you require legal assistance with regard to these Executive of Administrative Orders or you have concerns about DOH or CDC Guidelines, consult Griffin Alexander, P.C. as to issues of liability and safety, today!