Daniel Burgess and Tina Burgess are the owners of Lagree, a fitness studio in Missoula’s Westside neighborhood. They are frustrated at seeing bars, restaurants, clothing stores and other “non-essential” businesses open and drawing people while they must remain closed. They saw that the governor’s “Phase I” re-opening plan called for gyms to remain closed, but they are a fitness studio that only takes customers by appointment and don’t share equipment during each session, so they reopened this week. Then, after one day, the local health department shut them down again, saying they were a “gym.”
“We have six non-porous machines where we we have doubled the minimum social distancing requirement, so everything’s 12 feet apart,” Daniel Burgess said. “We are able to prove that we are adhering to all social distancing measures, whereas certain industries, I can go meet with five strangers on the street and sit within six feet of them at the bar.”
They’ve got an entire website dedicated to the steps they’re taking for safety, including contact-free check-in, reduced class sizes, reduced class duration and having students remain on one machine until it’s sanitized.
“We’re not looking for a variance on the rule, and we want to adhere to social distancing and everything else the governor is saying, yet for whatever reason, our industry has been lumped together in one big ball,” Burgess continued. “And they’re making exceptions for certain industries. It just doesn’t make sense as a small business owner. And it’s not just us, there are a lot of businesses like us.”