On the 16th the White House released Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. The goal being to have states reopening as soon as May 1st.
These steps will guide state and local officials when reopening their individual economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives. For those wondering what this means, this article will bring some clarity as I combed through the guidelines to pull out the bits and pieces that apply to gym owners.
Phase one includes a long list of most non-essential businesses like gyms. Gyms can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.These protocols have been rumored to be somewhere around a 100 square feet per individual in the space, we will continue to look for validation of these guidelines.
This is very exciting and great to hear as most gym businesses in the States have been shut down for at least a month. With the Payroll Protection Plan having run out of funding with 100,000’s of business not receiving the support, most brick and mortar fitness businesses simply don’t have the cash reserves to go much longer.
This does not mean the National levels of Government will be requiring your state to open non-essential businesses like gyms back up. Instead what this is is a set of criteria a state must meet before reopening their economy.
It’s also important to note that this is the minimum guidelines the state must meet, there is not criteria for limiting what a state can add.
Just like the original closures, the White House will leave the final decision to reopen up to the state themselves and each of those governments will layer on their own set of rules on top of the minimum criteria which can include more limitation or longer periods of down time.
Further, some states will pass the final decision down to individual counties and cities.
So with that, let’s talk about the best case scenario. In the guidelines there are three basic indicators that must be satisfied before proceeding to a phased comeback. They are:
- Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period AND downward trajectory of covid-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
- Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period OR downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).
- Hospitals are able to treat all patients without crisis care AND have established a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.
So if your state has already met ALL of the minimum criteria and decides not to add ANY additional criteria of their own to your specific region then the fastest any phase 1 business will open is 14 days from the release of the guidelines on April 16th, which would be the 1st of May.
It’s unlikely most, if any, of the states have the criteria met currently, once they do, the 14 day clock starts and all three of the above indicators must happen for 14 consecutive days, if even one day of upward trend in illness is reported in your state then the clock will have to start over.
Once these states meet this criteria, they can allow non-essential businesses to re-open and then the below protocols must be followed for each business allowed to open:
Businesses that are part of the Phase 1 reopening, which includes gyms, are encouraged to telework, whenever possible and feasible with business operations. If possible, return employees to work in stages and last, close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce strict social distancing protocols. These are not stated as required but instead written as “encouraged”.
In phase 2, gyms can remain open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols, same as phase 1. Also in phase 2, common areas should remain closed, but a note is added that the other option is “moderate social distancing protocols should be enforced”. Schools and organized youth activities (e.g., daycare, camp) can reopen as well.
In phase 3 it changes and the social distancing protocols are removed, while the adherence to sanitation protocols is still required but goes from “STRICT” to “STANDARD”. Also, in phase 3 businesses can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites and common areas can be reopened. Phase 3 is also where individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed.
We are excited to hear the news, as gym owners, this means we can begin working on our game plan and strategy to reopen.
What should you be doing? If there is one thing we are sure of, it’s that the wrong time to start working on your business is once you actually reopen. Most of us will be incredibly busy just getting our operations back up to full speed. The time you have to dedicate to the improving of systems will be limited, the free time you need to put in work on improving your business is available to you now and should not be taken for granted.
At Big Little Gyms we have many gym owner currently using this time to implement strategies that were tough to find time to deploy before. In many market, with the summer months ahead, the cabin fever many are experiencing is going to create a rush to get out of the house. Social environments, like gyms, are likely to be in high demand, so you want to be positioned to take advantage of this.
This includes optimizing your social media presence, publishing high value content to gain an audience, having your marketing campaigns ready, and maybe even rolling them out ahead of time to create awareness. You’ll also want to make sure you have your organic search presence dialed in so people can find you and that your trust and authority is edified by strong social proof including reviews and testimonials.
If you’d like some guidance then start by booking a free strategy call now. We aren’t charging for strategy calls right now, as out goal is to assist other brick and mortar gym owners get the resources they need during this time.
For more information on where your state stands in regard to meeting the criteria you can read this article.