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Auburn gym owner supports proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirement despite push back from patrons

The owner of Sumner Ninja in Auburn said the requirement will make gym-goers safer, while some customers said they'll be taking their business elsewhere.

AUBURN, Wash. — A new King County health order will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for most indoor spaces, including gyms and performance venues. The order will have some of its biggest impacts in the Kent-Auburn area, where the vaccination rate is 68.6%, the lowest in King County.

"I think it's a good step forward. It's going to give people a bit more safety. They're going to feel a bit more comfortable walking into places," said David Anderson, owner of Sumner Ninja in Auburn.

Anderson opened the gym at the beginning of the pandemic and has been navigating changes from health officials. Many classes at Sumner Ninja are for kids who are too young to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the gym has room for parents to watch.

Under King County's new health order, those parents will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test in order to watch their children participate in class.

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"I do fully believe that everyone should be vaccinated," said Anderson.

"It's going to limit a lot of the things we can go do with our families," said Starr Date, who was watching her child practice the course at Sumner Ninja.

Date hasn't received the COVID-19 vaccine and feels the county's order goes too far.

Anderson said, in the past, he's occasionally received pushback from parents regarding Sumner Ninja's mask requirement. He expects the health order will be similar.

"It makes it a little harder just because you are having to ask parents to go an extra step just to be able to enter the building," said Anderson.

King County officials said 85% of the county is vaccinated. The county said it preferred requiring proof of vaccination over implementing capacity limits for businesses.

However, Date, who lives in Pierce County, said the health order might have her avoiding King County altogether.

"Personally, I don't know if we would be able to keep coming [to Sumner Ninja], which is sad because our son does love it so much," said Date.