Mass. business owners hopeful to stay open as other states go back into lockdown amid new COVID-19 spikes

BOSTON — Gym owners in Boston were excited to finally reopen their clubs Monday after shutting down for four months because of COVID-19.

“It’s great to be back,” said Mark Harrington, president of Healthworks and Republic Fitness centers in the Boston area. “We’re running about a 20% occupancy right now.”

He says they’re going above and beyond the new restrictions to keep people at least 14 feet apart while working out, encouraging members to wear face masks and social distance, while employees sanitize all equipment between reservations.

“It was painful to go through this process, but I think we have to look back now and say if we take the pain now it’s going to be much better in the long term,” said Harrington.

Harrington is hoping gyms will be better off in Massachusetts and stay open now unlike the sudden lockdown Monday in California.

Indoor businesses there were forced to close again after another spike in coronavirus cases. Harrington heard about it on his conference call with other gym owners Monday afternoon.

“Three of the operators on the call were from California, they just heard the news right as they were dialing in and there was a lot of shock on the call,” said Harrington. “Two of the club owners said this might be it, ‘we might not be able to reopen after this.”

But California reopened a lot of businesses much earlier than Massachusetts, so Harrington says he’s hopeful another lockdown won’t happen here.

“We’re going to enforce and have the healthiest clubs we possibly can,” said Harrington. “We’re going to remind our members to follow the rules and we’re optimistic the residents of the Commonwealth are going to be able to pull this off and we’re going to stay okay.”

Harrington says luckily while they were closed about a third of their members offered to continue paying their membership fees, which really helped them stay in business.

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