Gyms in RI, Mass. must wait to reopen, leaving owners frustrated

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Crossfit Providence owner Tanner Baldauf was readying to reopen Saturday during Phase 1 of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to reopen the economy when he received a disappointing call from Rhode Island Commerce.

“‘Hey, we saw your gym is opening, and that’s not allowed,” Baldauf recalled.

Baldauf said he was planning on implementing a new set of rules and regulations in his gym that he thought would follow the Phase 1 guidelines in Rhode Island.

“I saw 10 people, or less, the distancing and the cleanliness standards that needed to happen,” he said. “A lot of it was similar to what was happening right before they closed us.”

After being told he would have to wait to reopen, Baldauf joined about 35 other gym owners, in partnership with Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, to help form a statewide plan that makes it safe for certain types of gyms to reopen sooner than previously planned.

But Raimondo’s announcement Thursday still leaves Baldauf confused on whether he should be allowed to reopen or not, especially since Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has ordered all of the city’s gyms to remain closed until June 5.

“We’re going to continue to have updated guidance, maybe I’ll have an announcement on that in a week, or so. We’re trying to get there,” Raimondo said when asked about gyms.

“[It would] be very nice for them to be on the same page,” Baldauf added.

In Massachusetts, gyms have been ordered to remain closed until at least May 18, according to Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order.

Director of Operations at Fit Factory Brandon Bairos tells Eyewitness News it’s frustrating that his gyms are stagnant while other businesses are allowed to reopen.

“[There are] enough safety procedures in place where our members are going to be just as safe there, if not safer, than going anywhere else in public,” Bairos said.

“I can track who comes to my gym better than TJ Maxx can track who goes through their store,” Baldauf added.

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