California has long been considered one of the “capitals” of the fitness industry as it is home to thousands of gyms and boutique fitness studios.  COVID-19 hit the state’s fitness industry particularly hard when shelter-in-place orders were announced in mid-March and, as we detailed in an article last month, now presents unique reopening challenges.

On June 5, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that gyms and other fitness facilities may start to reopen as of today, June 12, 2020, subject to county-specific authorization.  That same day, Gov. Newsom issued a series of comprehensive guidelines for the fitness industry.  Among other things, the guidelines:

  • Require contactless temperature and/or symptom screening for all employees at the beginning of their shifts as well as of any vendors, contractors, or other workers entering the facility, or requires that individuals perform similar self-screening at-home;
  • Urge fitness employers to temperature and/or symptom screen customers and/or members upon arrival and request that they use hand sanitizer and wear face coverings to the extent possible;
  • Strongly encourage employers to mandate that employees wear face coverings when they are in close proximity to others, particularly if social distancing cannot be maintained in the gym or studio space;
  • Require fitness employers to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff;
  • Mandate that fitness businesses remind customers and/or members to wear face coverings and provide face coverings to those who arrive without them; and
  • Suggest employers consider whether disposable gloves may be helpful to supplement frequent handwashing.

Late yesterday, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, issued a revised Health Officer Order permitting gyms and other fitness businesses to reopen as early as June 12th.  To accompany the Order, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued detailed reopening protocols for the fitness industry.  Among other things, the protocols:

  • Require all members and customers to wear face coverings except when engaged in physical exercise or while training;
  • Limit “gym” occupancy to 50% or less;
  • Require modification of group classes to permit at least six feet of distance between patrons;
  • Suggest, for “high aerobic classes,” at least eight feet of social distance; and
  • Recommend the implementation of contactless payment and check-in systems, if feasible.

California’s second most populous metropolitan area, San Francisco, has yet to authorize the reopening of fitness businesses.  Pursuant to the City’s and County’s current reopening plan, gyms and similar businesses are presently anticipated to reopen in Phase 3 of the reopening timeline, which is expected to begin sometime in mid-August.

Photo of Philippe A. Lebel Philippe A. Lebel

Philippe (Phil) A. Lebel represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, defamation, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class- and/or representative-action context, at both the trial and…

Philippe (Phil) A. Lebel represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, defamation, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class- and/or representative-action context, at both the trial and appellate level, and before administrative agencies.

In addition to his litigation work, Phil regularly advises clients regarding compliance with federal, state and local employment laws, and assists a variety of companies and financial firms in evaluating labor and employment issues in connection with corporate transactions. Phil also has experience assisting employers with sensitive employee investigations and trainings.  Phil also represents employers in connection with labor law matters, such as labor arbitrations and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.

Phil has assisted clients in a wide array of sectors including in the biotech, education, entertainment, financial services, fitness, healthcare, high-tech, legal services, manufacturing, media, professional services, sports, and staffing industries, among others.

Phil regularly speaks on emerging issues for employers and has been published or quoted in Law360, the Daily JournalThe Hollywood ReporterBusiness Insurance, and SHRM.org regarding a variety of labor and employment law topics.

During college, Phil worked on political campaigns in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, and was an intern with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Phil is a former member of the Board of Directors of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.