Loophole: North Carolina gyms can open for those with doctors’ notes

Loophole: North Carolina gyms can open for those with doctors’ notes
File photo gym (Image via Yelp Inc./Flickr)

North Carolina has been in phase two of reopening since May 22. The state hasn’t entered the next phase, as the daily number of positive COVID-19 tests, coronavirus hospitalizations and virus-related emergency room visits continue to increase.

While some businesses, like restaurants, tattoo parlors and overnight camps, have been allowed to resume limited operations, others are still shuttered, waiting for next steps from government officials. Among those businesses are gyms and wellness studios.

But people who present their gyms with approved documents from health providers can work out inside fitness facilities, according to a ruling by the North Carolina Department of Justice. Those who wish to work out at their gyms just need to provide the notes or proof of a prescription to gym staff.

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“It makes it more of a loophole, which makes it more difficult to open,” Chris Narveson, who owns two Orangetheory Fitness locations, told WSOC-TV.

Narveson, who has had one location closed since March, said he’s afraid to reopen the gyms because Gov. Roy Cooper could issue an order that reverses the allowance.

“The governor could come back in next week and shut that down,” he said. “Our industry is hurting. It’s not easy, and I know a lot of gyms are open, and I don’t fault them. But it’s really hard because nobody knows what the right thing to do is right now.

“Everyone’s open in 47 states, and we are one of those places that’s not,” he added.

According to WSOC-TV, gyms don’t have to submit any kind of paperwork to the state, and there’s no running list maintained by officials recording gyms that are open.

The rule is confusing for people, and police have received multiple calls from concerned citizens who have reported seeing crowded gyms.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police recently looked into one complaint after a caller said a gym hosted about 30 people at one time. After an investigation, police determined the business was open “for members that have health conditions.”

Narveson said he’ll consider taking advantage of the “loophole” if North Carolina doesn’t move into phase three by September.

“It’s either that or shut down. If you’re going to shut down gyms until there’s a vaccine, let us know so we don’t blow all the money that we have,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police told WSOC-TV that they weren’t aware of any gyms that had been cited for opening under the phase two restrictions.

See more at WSOC-TV.com

WSOC-TV News Staff contributed to this story.