A week after Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide mask order in hopes of tamping down a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued guidance Thursday intended to clarify how it applies to working out in gyms.
The only reference to gyms in the mask mandate that was issued July 16 came in a line that exempted “individuals who are exercising alone or with others from the individual’s household and a face covering would interfere with the activity.”
In a list of Frequently Asked Questions updated by the CDPHE on Thursday, there is a bit more information: “Mask-wearing requirements apply to everyone indoors, including people exercising. If you are in an indoor room with other patrons who are not a part of your household, then you need to wear a mask. You may remove it temporarily if you need to catch your breath or safely perform an activity, but wear a mask as much as feasible.”
For those who may find it difficult to wear a mask while running on a treadmill indoors, the advice is simple: Maybe try running outside instead.
According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, “People who are engaged in high-intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a cloth face covering if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to wear a cloth face covering, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.”
It seems most local gym managers have concluded that the mask mandate does apply to high-respiration cardio workouts. The Know randomly called six 24 Hour Fitness locations, six Planet Fitness gyms and six Orangetheory Fitness studios. Staff members at all 18 said they were requiring masks on treadmills and spin bikes, although three said members were allowed to remove their masks for quick “breathers.” Soul Cycle also is requiring masks.
Attempts to reach corporate spokespersons for 24 Hour Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness and Soul Cycle were unsuccessful. Robin Jost, Planet Fitness Colorado’s “COVID deputy,” said its gyms are complying with the order.
“At Planet Fitness, we support the mandates from the state, counties and cities,” Jost said in an emailed statement. “We have asked our members to wear masks while they are in our facilities working out. Our members have appreciated and are adjusting to the mandates to keep themselves and others safe.”
The FAQ from CDPHE also has some guidance for indoor sports: “Masks should be worn while playing indoor sports unless it interferes with the activity. You may remove the mask temporarily to catch your breath if needed, or if you can’t wear appropriate safety equipment while wearing the mask. Wear a mask as much as feasible.”
Regarding indoor pools, CDPHE says, “You should take your mask off while swimming in the pool, but you must put it back on while you are not swimming but in the pool area.”
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