Gov. Bill Lee announced today gyms and exercise facilities will begin re-opening in 89 of 95 Tennessee counties on Friday, May 1.

Like the restaurants and retail businesses allowed to re-open this week, guidance was issued for these facilities.


“Exercise is incredibly important for the physical and mental health of our population, and we want Tennesseans to have access to safe environments where they can exercise as appropriate,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “These guidelines outline best practices in keeping with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and health experts for gyms to reopen in a way that will keep their employees and customers safe.”

Gyms closed to the public on March 22 when Lee, along with county executive Jeff Huffman and Tipton County’s mayors, declared a state of emergency.

Some have adapted, allowing members access to virtual programs or by hosting virtual programs themselves.

Jere Mason – the owner of Mason’s Martial Arts, which celebrated 20 years in business on April 1 – said online classes have kept his students engaged during the closure.

“Parents seem to like that they have a break from the kids,” he said. “We have had zero cancellations and have even enrolled new members during this time. I’ve found that lots of people who wouldn’t come in the martial arts school out of fear or embarrassment are able to avoid that issue by training online with me.”

Here’s how gyms and fitness facilities will re-open in a way that is, in the governor’s words, supports his plan for “safe and methodical” re-opening:

Adapting business processes

  • Restrict facility access to staffed hours only (i.e., any unmanned facilities must be manned) and limit facility occupancy to 50 percent of capacity as dictated by fire code (as such capacity is adjusted in consideration of closed areas of the facility pursuant to these guidelines);
  • Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling;
  • Staff to conduct regular (i.e., every 2 hours) disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, equipment and common areas of the facility using disinfectant cleaning supplies according to CDC guidelines;
  • Close showers, locker rooms, and lockers until further notice. Ask customers to instead use small gym bags to store personal belongings; remind customers to appropriately monitor or secure such personal belongs or provide a secure area monitored by staff;
  • Close all swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas and other recreational water or spa facilities;
  • Close all basketball courts, racquetball courts, and other places where formal and informal group or team sports may occur;
  • Any youth or adult team leagues or sports should remain closed;
  • Only allow group fitness classes if classes can be completed in accordance with social distancing recommendations (including but not limited to: less than 50% capacity and with more than 6 feet of distance maintained between participants at all times; no shared equipment during the class; sufficiently adjusted class schedules to allow for deep cleaning between classes; martial arts and other contact activities should be completed without any person-to-person contact);
  • Encourage all employees and customers to wear PPE where applicable, and recommend that customers wear a face covering (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers);
  • Adjust equipment layout and close or restrict access to equipment to maintain at least six feet of distance between equipment;
  • Temporarily close water fountains, common areas, break rooms, check-in counters, where customers or employees may congregate. Encourage users to provide their own water;
  • No self-service options (coffee bars, smoothie stations and other forms of communal food in facilities). Food retail should follow restaurant guidelines;
  • Ensure that staffing of facilities is sufficient to enable enhanced sanitization and cleaning measures;

How patrons will be protected

  • Screen customers for illness upon entry to the gym:
    • Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer. Persons with temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be permitted on premise;
    • Minimum: Question customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms
      • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
      • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
      • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
  • Keep doors and windows open where possible to improve ventilation;
  • Post signs encouraging social distancing (visible to customers);
  • Require that customers wash or sanitize their hands upon entering and leaving the facility;
  • Require customers to clean equipment they come in contact with using disinfecting wipes before and after each use;
  • Encourage customers to use only one piece of equipment at a time (i.e., no circuits or “super setting”) so that machines are cleaned after use;
  • Consider limiting workout length to avoid unnecessary exposure, decrease congestion, and allow for additional sanitization;
  • Recommend that persons more vulnerable or at-risk for  COVID-19 as identified by the CDC—including those who are over the age of 65 or those who have chronic medical conditions—take extra precaution or refrain from use of the facility during Phase 1 of re-opening.

How employees will be protected

  • Allow employees to work from home as much as possible;
  • Screen all employees reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Staff should wear face coverings (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) and other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC;
  • Provide training on personal protective equipment based on CDC guidelines;
  • Provide a sanitizing station such as a wash basin with soap and/or bottle of hand sanitizer;
  • Practice recommended social distancing to the greatest extent possible.

What are the numbers today?

Confirmed cases: 96, which includes at least 29 inmate at the West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason

Average increase in confirmed cases per day: 2.37


Tipton Countians tested: 1,314

Number negative: 1,218

If you’d like to be tested, check out our list of testing sites.

Recovery and hospitalization

Number of Tipton Countians recovered: 46

Number hospitalized at Baptist-Tipton: 0

With 96 confirmed cases and 46 reported recoveries, this means there are at least 50 active cases of COVID-19 in Tipton County.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.