Amid growing scrutiny of gyms, some call for tougher protocols rather than a shutdown

Cluster of COVID-19 cases at 2 Oahu gyms prompts Health Department warning

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As government officials reopen the discussion on whether to shut down high-risk businesses like restaurants, bars, and gyms again, one Honolulu workout site is trying to show it is safe to workout amid the coronavirus pandemic.

From the moment they walk in, all who enter Crossfit HTF in Honolulu are subject to a rigorous screening process complete with temperature check, disinfecting of shoes, hands and equipment, separated workspaces, and even the positioning of air fans.

“We understand good circulation is important, however, we don’t want a lot of cross-ventilation, so we make sure the fans are blowing in the same direction, so that we are not spreading it across the gym,” said Thomas Lee, Crossfit HTF strength and conditioning head coach.

Lee also works as an epidemiologist and built the gym’s criteria to mitigate risk.

Such a procedure is completely the opposite of what the state Department of Health discovered at two unnamed Oahu gyms responsible for two recent clusters consisting of 17 coronavirus cases.

“The equipment was spaced well within 6 feet of each other, if not, some of them within 3 feet of each other and it was basically a closed room with two fans going and the instructor was basically on a stage facing the individuals very close,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said.

“So it basically was a total setup for spreading infection.”

Park also adds people should take a hard look at whether businesses are following proper safety procedures. Otherwise, shutdowns may return.

“Something I do worry about that I’ve seen in the past, some policy makers, not locally, but in other states, kind of just have a heavy hand and say ‘all gyms are shut down,’” Lee said.

“Without recognizing that a lot of the gym owners, the majority of gym owners are small business owners, really go out of their way to make sure that themselves, their patrons are safe as possible.”

Lee also says he believes there should be a system that identifies whether a gym is complying with regulations similar to health placards that can now be issued to restaurants and bars.

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