Fitness buffs in Sun City will soon be able to visit their favorite Recreation centers of Sun City fitness center.
Joelyn Higgins, RCSC communications and marketing coordinator, said today the corporation’s fitness centers will open Friday, Aug. 28. The decision comes after Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, declared Maricopa County met the criteria for opening indoor gyms and fitness centers.
That criteria included less than 100 cases per 100,000 individuals, percent positivity under 10% of population and hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses in the region less than 10%.
“Late Wednesday, Aug. 26, Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director, indicated that Maricopa County would most likely meet the metrics when the data was posted the morning of Thursday, Aug. 27,” she stated in an email. “After confirming that Maricopa County met the metrics, RCSC submitted the attestations for each of our fitness locations.”
Fitness centers in Recreation Centers of Sun City and Recreation Centers of Sun City West were closed following the governor’s executive order. RCSCW officials reopened their fitness centers briefly during the summer, but then closed them again.
A Valley law firm was working to get gyms and fitness centers open despite the ADHS criteria.
The Carpenter Hazelwood law firm, which represents multiple homeonwers associations, requested clarification on wehther residential community associations fell under Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order to close gyms and fitness centers in the state. While the firm got no clear answer on paper, Arizona Department of Health Services officials did take the position that Gov. Ducey’s executive order closing gyms and fitness centers does not apply to residential community associations.
Recreation Centers of Sun City West officials took immediate action to open two of their fitness centers — Palm Ridge, 13800 W. Deer Valley Drive, and R.H. Johnson, 19803 R.H. Johnson Blvd., Aug. 31 and Sept. 3 respectively.
Steve Elliott of ADHS, in response to an Independent inquiry to confirm the agency’s position, left a voicemail with his cell phone number for recontact. But multiple calls to that number only resulted in busy signals.
Carpenter Hazelwood’s research came on the heels of new guidelines for business reopenings. From that research, the law firm’s attorneys concluded associations are authorized to immediately reopen and operate their indoor fitness centers/gyms without the need to either seek ADHS’ approval or comply with ADHS’ detailed indoor gyms and fitness center requirements.
The law firm began its research because Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-43 was unclear whether or not the order applied to fitness centers/gyms operated in a noncommercial setting, such as those within a community association, according to Carpenter Hazelwood’s email. The governor’s office representatives advised that it was intended to apply to community associations. No guidance was forthcoming from ADHS.
A community manager contacted ADHS officials for guidance regarding the reopening process as is applied to her condominium board’s desire to re-open their fitness center, according to Carpenter Hazelwood. The manager received the following response.
“Fitness centers associated with a private residence, such as an apartment complex, condominium complex or homeowner’s association, are not required to comply with the procedures in Emergency Measure 2020-02. While ADHS recommends that you encourage your residents to follow COVID-19 prevention practices as outlined in the ADHS Requirements for Indoor Gyms and
Fitness Centers, this is not a requirement for you to open or operate.”
Carpenter Hazelwood contacted ADHS’ legal counsel for clarification. The counsel confirmed that ADHS now takes the position that residential community association fitness centers/gyms are exempt from ADHS’ reopening process order to either open or operate.
Carpenter Hazelwood cautioned association managers that ADHS officials could still modify its interpretation of the governor’s executive order or its own order. In addition, the governor’s order and ADHS orders remain in force.
As a best practice, Carpenter Hazelwood officials encouraged any community association leaders who intends to reopen their indoor fitness center/gym to review ADHS’ requirements to determine whether the adoption of any of the requirements would be in the community’s best interests.