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August 26, 2020 Posted in Firm News

Governor Murphy is expected to announce today the opening of fitness centers in New Jersey, effective September 1, 2020, with restrictions.

Fitness centers have been closed to the public in accordance with Executive Order 104. The Governor previously stated, in his Executive Order, that fitness centers “are vital to the economic health of the State, are also locations where large numbers of individuals gather in close proximity.” For this reason, the reopening of fitness centers will open in a similar manner to other activities where people gather – with restrictions. The expected restrictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Restrictions on indoor group activities and classes for one person for every 200 square feet of space in the room.
  • Masks or face coverings must be worn at all times inside the gym.
  • Equipment must be six feet apart.
  • People must sign a form when they enter the gym that says they will adhere to the safety guidelines.
  • Gyms must keep a log of workers and clients, including names and phone numbers, so the information could be made available to contact tracers in the event there’s a COVID-19 exposure at the facility.

This follows the New York Governor’s effort with the reopening of fitness centers effective August 24th. Guidance in New York for fitness centers include the following restrictions, according to the New York Governor’s website:

  • Capacity: 33% occupancy limit.
  • Access: Sign-in with contact information and health screening required.
  • PPE: Appropriate face coverings required at all times.
  • Distancing: 6 feet of separation at all times.
  • Hygiene/Cleaning: Cleaning and disinfection supplies made available to customers; shared equipment cleaned after every use; staff must also be available to clean and disinfect equipment in between uses; rental equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between customer use.
  • Classes: By appointment/reservation only; maximum class capacity capped at number of people that can adhere to the 6-feet social distancing rules, but in no case more than 33% of the typical class size (i.e., leave stations, cycles, etc. vacant); classes should be scheduled to allow additional time for cleaning and disinfection in between each session.
  • Amenities: Water bottle refill stations permitted, but not shared water fountains; communal showers are closed, but individual showers/stalls can remain open so long as they are cleaned in between use.
  • Air Handling Systems: Gyms should operate at MERV-13 or greater; if they are unable to operate at that level, they must have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional document their inability to do so and adopt additional ventilation and mitigation protocols from American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Inspection: Local health departments shall inspect before or within two weeks of the gym/fitness center opening to ensure compliance.

It is nearly certain that the issue of a new Executive Order allowing private fitness facilities to open will cause pressure on apartment owners and community associations to follow suit.  Apartment and community association managers should keep in mind that insurance companies will not insure against the possibility of Covid 19 infection from the use of fitness equipment. Even pools had the advantage of being largely outdoors and with chlorinated water. That is why pools were allowed to open before fitness centers.

Waivers of liability, while better to have them than not, are not a panacea, and are generally not favored in the law. But if your community is seriously considering meeting the guidelines issued by the Governor and wants to open, you should consider having each user sign a waiver, and we can prepare appropriate document for you.

We will keep you apprised of additional developments in the coming days as this could change. If you have any questions on the reopening of fitness centers, contact Griffin Alexander, P.C.


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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