As health and fitness clubs reopen around the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, club operators are facing difficult questions about requiring employees and members to wear protective face coverings.
While all business owners are struggling with these issues, they can be even more complex for health clubs, as wearing a mask while exercising is uncomfortable at best and potentially dangerous for individuals with health conditions. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises against wearing masks during exercise because it can make breathing more difficult. Clubs will also need to navigate consumer perceptions and enforcement of any policies on face coverings or masks.
In addition to these questions, there are potential legal issues involving masks and disability laws in different countries, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which can create unique challenges for club operators.
The Basics of Masks & Face Coverings
As businesses around the country are reopening, much of the debate is centered around protective face coverings and an individual’s responsibility to use them when social distancing is not feasible.
Currently, the vast majority of U.S. states and a number of countries require individuals wear protective face coverings in public settings such as supermarkets, public transport, and in certain business sectors where social distancing is not possible. Some local governments are taking these mandates even further. For example, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Czech Republic require individuals to wear masks any time they are outside of their home.
With the increase in cases around the United States, parts of the U.K., Brazil, and Russia, there is a possibility that mask requirements will become even more robust in the coming weeks.