IHRSA Addresses New Vaccine Mandates for Health Clubs

    New York City will require fitness facilities and other indoor businesses to require proof of vaccination among employees and patrons. IHRSA released a statement regarding the new mandate and CDC guidelines.

    On Tuesday, August 3, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that proof of vaccination will now be required to enter all restaurants, fitness facilities, and indoor entertainment venues. Beginning August 16, staff and customers alike will need at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to access indoor businesses. Enforcement of the mandate will start on September 13.

    The program, known as the “Key to NYC Pass,” states that upon entrance, employees and patrons must show proof of vaccination via a paper card or through use of the city's COVID-19 safe app or the state's Excelsior app. Outdoor dining will not require proof of vaccination.

    The new mandate comes as the U.S. experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Although this mandate is the first of its kind in the U.S., other countries have instituted similar policies.

    Over the past few days, Equinox, SoulCycle, and Row Republic Boston disclosed that they will require consumers and members to show proof of vaccination to work out in their facilities.

    In addition, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently updated its public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Under the new guidance, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Furthermore, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 be tested three-to-five days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. For now, these are recommendations. The U.S. has not issued a federal mask mandate, and individual states have not altered their current mask-wearing guidelines.

    As the Global Health & Fitness Association, IHRSA released the following statement in regards to the new CDC guidelines and vaccine mandates.

    The health, safety, and well-being of health club members is—and always has been—the utmost priority of the industry. IHRSA believes that all health clubs must adhere to best practices and government guidelines.

    We know that vaccines are a critical tool against COVID-19 and for getting us out of this pandemic, so too is exercise. Many health clubs offered their facilities as vaccination sites and support the vaccinations of their members. As a natural extension of the healthcare continuum, health clubs are essential to public health, and they should remain open and therefore take the necessary steps prescribed by government to stay open.

    Health Clubs Are Essential to Public Health

    As a natural extension of the healthcare continuum, health clubs are essential to public health. They should remain open and accessible. Indeed, health clubs are a critical component in fighting COVID-19—as they are an indispensable tool in keeping people healthy and safe from the very underlying chronic diseases that make individuals most vulnerable to the virus.

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    Research demonstrates that exercise helps protect against severe COVID-19—for example, Study Finds Inactivity a Key Risk Factor for Severe COVID -19. And we fully expect more evidence to come as studies continue.

    Health & Fitness Industry Continues to Keep Consumers Safe

    Throughout the pandemic, the health and fitness industry has worked hard to ensure a safe environment for staff, members, and their communities—adapting quickly to follow all risk mitigation measures and COVID-19 mandates. Fitness facilities have made appreciable adjustments—such as enhancing filtration and HVAC systems, investing in sanitation and disinfectant products, and constructing barriers to abide by social distancing guidelines.

    It is important to note that data consistently show that the risk of COVID-19 transmission in health and fitness clubs is comparatively low to other indoor businesses. The industry continues to take appropriate steps to minimize any risk of transmission so health club members can continue to invest in their physical and mental well-being through exercise.

    To ensure that our member health clubs take the most appropriate, up-to-date measures, IHRSA launched two instrumental initiatives: The Active & Safe Commitment and the Medical, Science, and Health Advisory Council.

    IHRSA and the health and fitness industry take the threat of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts seriously. We will continue to follow the science, work with public health officials, and guide the industry in establishing effective protocols and best practices to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

    Likewise, IHRSA looks forward to seeing health and fitness clubs, gyms, and studios continue to serve as safe, dependable, and supportive resources where people can exercise to safeguard themselves against chronic diseases and other health conditions that put populations at the highest risk.

    Author avatar

    Sami Smith

    Sami Smith is IHRSA's Communications and Public Relations Assistant. On a typical day, she delivers communications and creates content for IHRSA's advocacy efforts, while working to shape IHRSA and the fitness industry's public image on multiple platforms. Outside of the office, you can find her traveling to new areas, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.