St. Louis County Summer Camps Set to Reopen — But Gyms Still Waiting

click to enlarge St. Louis County could allow gyms to reopen in mid-June, but it hasn't confirmed the date. - COURTESY THOROUGHLYREVIEWED
St. Louis County could allow gyms to reopen in mid-June, but it hasn't confirmed the date.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page says day camps for kids will be able to reopen on June 1, mostly likely followed by pools and youth and adult athletic leagues (without fans) on June 15. Gyms could potentially open on June 15 as well, but they are still an open question.

"Workout facilities, gyms are a very important part of our health, our physical health and our mental health, and we want to get them open," Page said during a news conference this morning. "But we also have to recognize this is one of the highest-risk opportunities for transmission of COVID-19, and we have to do it responsibly."

Gym closures have been a flashpoint in the county's effort to control the slow reopening of businesses in hopes of limiting the spread of the coronavirus. House of Pain gym, with locations in Chesterfield and Maryland Heights, reopened on May 4 in defiance of the county's orders. Owner Joseph Corbett has sued the county in federal court, naming Page, acting Director of Public Health Emily Doucette and County Counselor Beth Orwick as defendants.

"These infringements on certain of our Constitutional rights would have been unimaginable in our freedom-loving country before COVID-19," the gyms' lawsuit says.

Corbett argues his staff is well versed in cleaning procedures, and the gyms are almost certainly in better shape than other places that have remained open, such as gas stations where people are regularly touching pump handles.

During this morning's news conference, Page said gyms present a unique challenge, because people working out typically can't wear masks, and all that heavy breathing sprays potentially disease-carrying water droplets through the air. He added that he and his staff have met with "very thoughtful and responsible" gym owners who are working hard to create plans for reopening safely, and he believes most operators are being conscientious.

"A small percentage of those will choose a different pathway, and we will deal with that on a case-by-case basis," Page said.

Summer camps for kids will be required to follow rules similar to daycares, including ramping up cleaning. They'll have to scrap large group activities and field trips, and parents will have to drop off their kids without going in. The guidelines call for one-way entrances and exits for children or curbside drop-offs with parents waiting in their cars.

The county has yet to set a date to reopen bars not tied to restaurants. Page said that category includes large entertainment venues, and officials are still trying to figure out the best way to regulate them. He said the tentative plan is to allow the majority of business, with restrictions on operations, to reopen by the end of June. But that could change, he said, because the situation is constantly shifting.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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