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Gyms open to 50% capacity under new emergency order

Anchorage gyms can now go up to 50% of their capacity under the latest emergency order.
Anchorage gyms can now go up to 50% of their capacity under the latest emergency order.(Matt Leseman)
Published: Jan. 2, 2021 at 5:20 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage gyms are now operating under different requirements under Emergency Order 17, which took effect Friday.

EO-17 replaced the “hunker down” emergency order from December, which restricted gyms to 25% percent capacity. According to Jennifer Novak, owner of Alaska Fitness, that number not only limited business, but created logistic issues for operations.

“We’d have to have a tally at the front door, and people that worked out for four or five hours would be asked to leave when it got really busy,” she said.

Under EO-17, gyms can open up to 50% capacity. That on its own allows gyms to do more business, but Brian Horschel, owner of Body Renew Alaska argues it’s especially important because of the timing.

“We’re going into January, February, with a lot of New Year’s resolutions,” he said. “People want to try to get their fitness back after the holiday season and putting on some extra pounds.”

One of the big challenges now is making sure that customers follow the other emergency orders and health guidelines. Customers have been required to wear masks at all times, even during workouts, since early November.

“It’s been a full-time job having people wear their masks, everyone has their own opinion, conspiracies, or this or that, but in this place, you have to have a mask on at all times,” Novak said.

Making sure those guidelines are followed has an added level of importance as the municipality steps up its code-enforcement. In the past months the city has hired more code-enforcement officers, and taken a more proactive approach to making sure businesses are complying.

Exactly how those rules are enforced will vary from gym to gym, but repeated violations can result in a shutdown, which could be devastating for a business.

“It’s not fun, but it’s not fun for anyone,” Novak said. “This is just something we have to do right now.”

EO-17 does not have a set expiration date, though Acting Mayor Autin Quinn-Davidson’s emergency powers are set to expire on Jan. 15. If they are not extended, EO-17 will end with them.

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