Back in March when the COVID-19 shutdowns in the U.S. began, most of us were expecting closures to last a couple of weeks or a month at most. Now, here we are in June, and clubs in several states remain closed in some form. It is fair to say this has lasted longer than any of us expected.
The good news is 43 states are now open. In those states, we have heard from clubs that as much as 50% of their usual check-ins have returned. Given the capacity restrictions imposed by mandatory social distancing and other guidelines in place for reopening, this is an optimistic beginning to getting the industry up and running again.
For the states that are still closed to some extent, the fight continues. We’re pushing for officials to understand the essential role our industry plays in promoting and maintaining mental, physical, and social health and well-being.
IHRSA’s Actions for Reopening
The groundwork for the reopening of clubs began in April when communications with the White House resulted in President Trump calling for the reopening of health and fitness clubs in Phase 1, along with restaurants and places of worship.
Building on that start, IHRSA then reached out to the governor of every state, stressing that health and fitness clubs are integral to the overall health and wellness of their communities. The letter states that clubs should be allowed to open as soon as safely possible and presents an outline of a framework of action to establish safe procedures for reopening. After sending the first letter, IHRSA followed up with the four-pronged strategy for reopening that state government and club operators could use to assure public health officials and consumers that the industry can reopen safely.
While IHRSA actively lobby’s on behalf of the club industry in every state—with a five-year record of 88 wins and four losses stopping legislation that would directly harm your business—we currently operate with IHRSA lobbyists in eight states. In those states, IHRSA deployed those lobbyists to use their contacts to continue the outreach to those governors, reopening decision-makers, and local club operators.
IHRSA has boots on the ground in the form of state lobbyists in:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Pennsylvania, and
In states without an IHRSA lobbyist, we helped clubs organize to amplify their voices with state officials advocating for reopening.
With or without a lobbyist, IHRSA also provided resources to assist in the reopening process and set up email lobbying campaigns to send a loud and clear message that clubs need to reopen and why they are ready to do so.