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Benchmarks released for bars and gyms to reopen in Arizona

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Posted at 3:53 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 22:48:53-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services on Monday released a series of data-driven benchmarks that gyms, fitness centers, bars, and movie theaters -- all industries that have been closed for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic -- must meet in order to open, most at a reduced capacity.

Those industries, which also include water parks, nightclubs, and tube operators, were ordered closed at the end of June by an executive order signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the state. Bars could remain open for takeout and delivery. Restaurants were later ordered to reduce their indoor capacity to 50%.

In July, Ducey extended the order indefinitely and said it would be reviewed every two weeks for repeal or revision, which led to Mountainside Fitness, and other gyms, to file lawsuits against Gov. Ducey and the state, calling the executive order arbitrary.

Last week, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the state had to create a pathway where gyms and fitness centers could at least apply to reopen. It did not mandate that gyms had to be allowed to reopen.

"Upon this initial two-week review, ADHS advises keeping these restrictions in place for the time being, but is providing the following metrics for industry leaders and businesses to understand when a general reopening could be considered," a release from the governor's office stated. "Businesses have the opportunity through the attestation process for review of individual circumstances in the event that they are denied the ability to reopen for public health reasons."

Businesses can submit the attestation form, here.

The benchmarks are divided into three categories -- minimum, moderate, and substantial -- and will correlate with the community's level of community spread of COVID-19 depending on the number of cases, the percent of positivity, and percent of people with COVID-like illness, according to AZDHS' presentation.

All three benchmarks must be met for 14 days, assuming there is a 12-day lag, in order to move from one category to the other, AZDHS said. The requirements also depend on the industry.

The benchmarks take a county-by-county approach, similar to the state's guidelines released recently for schools. View the AZDHS data dashboard to see how your county is doing.

View the graph below to see the requirements for each level.

If the community spread is "substantial," bars, gyms, water parks, fitness centers, and gyms have to remain closed.

If the community spread is "moderate," bars and nightclubs that provide dine-in services, such as food, along with movie theaters, water parks, and tube operators can reopen at 50% occupancy. Gyms and fitness centers, however, can reopen at 25% capacity. Bars and nightclubs that do not serve food cannot reopen.

If the community spread is "minimal," bars and nightclubs serving food, movie theaters, water parks, tube operators, gyms and fitness centers can reopen at 50%, as long as the percent positivity is below 3%.

Bars and nightclubs that do not serve food can only reopen when the percent positive is less than 3% and the community risk is considered "minimal."

When certain industries are allowed to reopen, there are additional requirements, including hand sanitizer, enhanced cleaning, proper ventilation, mask requirements, and physical distancing.

Here are the specific benchmarks for each industry: