DC gym operators ‘thrilled’ about mask mandate’s end

Tuesday’s announcement that D.C. will soon lift its indoor mask mandate was welcomed by local health clubs, marking an end to a tense dynamic between gym owners and city health officials.

Two gym operators who spoke with WTOP said they were “thrilled” after hearing the news.

“It’s a huge relief for our business,” said Chris Perrin, co-owner of Cut Seven. While it doesn’t change a lot in terms of Cut Seven’s health precautions, he said, “it will change the perception and it will definitely get our business flowing again.”

Bryan Myers, president and CEO of Solidcore, agreed: “It’s really going to get our clients more comfortable getting back in our studios,” he said.

Tuesday’s announcement was particularly welcome news as the fall weather makes mask-optional activities like outdoor classes less appealing.

As with so many other businesses, the pandemic has taken a toll on health clubs. At Solidcore, for instance, business dropped by about 15% over the summer, as a mask mandate that had been lifted was reimposed in late July.

“And frankly, we consider ourselves on the lucky side of the spectrum,” Myers said.

Both pointed out that while masks are now optional at their clubs, vaccinations are still required, and Perrin said enforcing that rule has been much easier than enforcing a mask mandate.

“Policing that has been a challenge for our coaches and staff,” said Perrin, who added he will stay masked up because he and his wife have a new child.

D.C.’s move follows an effort by fitness center operators to get the District to reconsider a mask mandate, because many gyms require vaccination, and other localities like the city of Philadelphia allow mask-free exercising if everyone is vaccinated.

Despite the upcoming changes, Myers said the District could have made its move sooner.

“We need to continue to impress upon our leaders that we need to be making these decisions in a data-driven way as soon as we can,” he said, “because there are businesses that have been lost as a result of the lag and decision-making by our city’s leaders.”

WTOP’s Kristi King and Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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