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Washington gyms told to triple distance for exercising indoors

New COVID-19 guidance issued by Gov. Jay Inslee increases the requirement of six feet of distance between patrons to about 17 feet.

Washington gyms and fitness facilities will need to nearly triple the minimum distance required for patrons exercising indoors, except for those practicing certain team sports. 

New COVID-19 guidance issued by Gov. Jay Inslee increases the requirement of six feet of distance between patrons to 300 square-feet, which is just over 17 feet of space. 

The number of people allowed in gyms, fitness facilities and fitness classes will be limited by the size of their space under this guidance, and occupancy in facilities and gyms that are larger than 12,000 square feet will be capped at 25 percent. 

"We have so many questions from WFA members saying 'I don’t get it' and that I knew was going to be the biggest problem," said Blair McHaney of the Washington Fitness Alliance. He has been communicating with the governor's office about the new requirements.

"We looked at the state’s that are performing the very best against mitigating COVID-19 and looked at their guidance, and it’s generally, 150 square feet per person and maintain six feet of social distancing," McHaney said.

In addition, showers, hot tubs, saunas, and tanning beds at multi-use facilities will be closed, as will steam rooms, squash courts, and racquetball courts.

The new plan doesn't sit well with many Washington state gym owners, who say they are one of the safer industries with strong contact tracing. 

"We’re one of the very few businesses that know exactly who, their phone number, their contact information, where they’re going to be in the gym, and which way they’re going to face, and we can control that," explained McHaney.

He said he's also advocated for masks to be worn when in fitness centers, but with the ability to take them off during an exercise and then put them back on.