HANCOCK COUNTY — Gyms are warming up for their reopenings and new regimens they’ll have to follow as the state continues to allow for the resumption of certain activities.
Stage 3 of the Back on Track Indiana plan for the COVID-19 pandemic started for most counties on Friday, May 22 — two days ahead of schedule because health indicators remain positive, Gov. Eric Holcomb said. If all continues to go well, the stage is slated to last through June 13. But just because an activity is allowed to start up again, it doesn’t mean it necessarily will be anytime soon — like Greenfield’s public swimming pool. And some places originally part of Stage 3, like movie theaters and playgrounds, have had their openings postponed.
Gyms, fitness centers, yoga studios, martial arts studios and similar facilities can now open. The state says class sizes should be limited and equipment should be spaced to accommodate social distancing as well as cleaned after each use. No contact activities are allowed.
Story continues below gallery
Hancock Wellness Centers in Greenfield, McCordsville and New Palestine are applying those principles and more to its three-phase reopening set to begin on Tuesday, May 26. After being closed since March 16, they’re opening fitness floors, free-weight rooms, group exercise classes, pools, locker rooms (limited to every third locker) and massage services. Personal training and nutritional appointments will be available too, with social distancing rules.
The centers won’t accept guests or new memberships during its first phase, and amenities like tracks, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, pick-up basketball games, clinical fitness programs, in-person education classes and swimming lessons won’t resume just yet either.
David Flench, director of Hancock Wellness, said the three centers have a total of almost 9,000 members.
“We know that people are a little anxious and we think that everything that we’re doing is going to keep people as safe as possible,” Flench said. “…I feel very good about our preparations to make it a safe place for people to exercise.”
Dr. Lori Deemer, medical director of Hancock Wellness, said in a video promoting the reopening plan that members will be screened with some questions and will get their temperature taken upon their arrival. Staff will wear masks; members will be encouraged to wear them as they’re coming and going and even while they’re exercising if they feel comfortable doing so.
“We want to be thorough and diligent and cautious, but not fearful as we reopen our facilities,” Deemer said.
There will be 6-foot minimum social distancing requirements. For group exercise classes, participants will have areas to work out in 14 feet from one another. Equipment will be spaced differently and will have to be cleaned before and after each use.
Flench said in the video that Hancock Wellness will continue offering online programs for those who don’t want to hit the gym just yet. All sites will have reduced hours, and restrictions will ease as the centers move into other phases.
A full explanation of the plan is on the Hancock Wellness Center website, hancockwellness.org. Members are encouraged to check the organization’s Facebook page for updates.
Greenfield Fitness announced on its Facebook page that it’s opening on Sunday, May 24. The facility urges people not to come in if they’re sick and is limiting attendance to 12 people and 60-minute workouts. Masks are recommended and members are asked to wipe down equipment after use while also adhering to 6-foot social distancing guidelines.
Holcomb’s office announced Thursday that movie theaters and playgrounds, originally part of the state’s Stage 3 openings, will remain closed. Movie theaters are now projected to open along with other entertainment facilities and venues during Stage 4, which is slated to start on June 14. Reopenings for playgrounds are to be determined.
Community pools may open during Stage 3 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Youth summer day camps may open on June 1.
Greenfield officials determined it would be safest not to do either, however.
Skye Mackenzie, Greenfield’s assistant director of parks and recreation, said he respects Mayor Chuck Fewell’s decision not to open Riley Pool. Mackenzie said the decision, which came before the CDC issued its pool guidance, was made out of a concern for safety with the best data available at the time and at a time when it was difficult to get enough lifeguards trained.
Enforcing 50% capacity restrictions on a pool that can host more than 500 people would be no easy task, he continued.
“When that pool opens, it is always at capacity,” Mackenzie said. “Where do those 250 people go? Where do they stand? How do you keep them socially distanced?”
Safety for kids and staff was also behind the decision to call off Kids Camp, he said. He added it would be difficult to keep 80 to 100 6- to 12-year-olds socially distanced and wearing masks. Field trips and physical activities wouldn’t be possible.
Ellen Kuker, Greenfield parks superintendent, said the department hopes its programming and preschool will be able to return in the fall. Following guidance from the state on senior centers, the Patricia Elmore Center will remain closed until Hancock County reaches Stage 5, which is currently set for July 4. Riley Park’s splash pad is set to open that day as well.
Community tennis and basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields, YMCA programs, and similar facilities may open with social gathering and social distancing guidelines in place under Stage 3. Community recreational youth and adult sports leagues may also resume practices and conditioning while adhering to social gathering and social distancing guidelines. Contact sports, such as lacrosse and football, are prohibited, but conditioning and non-contact drills may take place.
Greenfield’s basketball courts, tennis courts, skate parks, shelters and indoor rentals will be available starting May 24. Practicing at sports fields will also be permitted by appointment only. Starting June 14, recreational sports leagues will be able to take the field, also by appointment only.
In Stage 3, campgrounds may open restrictions, including social distancing and sanitation precautions. State park inns reopen.
Hoosiers 65 and older and those with high-risk health conditions — who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 — should remain at home as much as possible, according to the guidelines. Face coverings in public places are recommended. Hoosiers who can work from home are encouraged to continue doing so.
Social gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Retail and commercial businesses may open at 75% capacity. Restaurants and bars with restaurant services may continue to operate at 50% capacity, but bar seating must remain closed. Personal services such as hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors may continue to be open by appointment only and must follow social distancing guidelines.
To learn more about Back on Track Indiana’s stages, visit backontrack.in.gov.