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Mountainside Fitness CEO expects to reopen health clubs Tuesday

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten is confident he will be able to reopen his health clubs next Tuesday after a judge ruled the state must give those in the industry a way to apply for reopening.

Hatten alerted members Tuesday of plans to reopen, hours after a judge said the state had one week to provide a way to apply.

“We’re going to speed up the clock. We will get it done,” Hatten told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show Wednesday.

“I’m confident the governor’s office will do that with our industry and allow us to do that, sign it and we are prepared to open Tuesday with all that in place.”

If Mountainside is able to open on Hatten’s schedule, it could be the end of an extended legal battle with the state.

Arizona’s gyms had been allowed to reopen in May after being closed under the stay-at-home order issued at the outset of the pandemic.

But after COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations soared, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order June 29 that again closed indoor gyms and fitness centers, bars, movie theaters, water parks and tubing.

Mountainside Fitness remained open and sought an injunction against the order, but Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled in favor of the government on July 7, saying the state “has the weight of the law on its side.”

Mountainside closed its 18 Arizona locations after that ruling.

Ducey’s executive order had no set end date but included a provision calling for it to be reconsidered for repeal or revision every two weeks starting July 27. He has extended the order once already, and the next review is due by Monday.

Hatten is confident his health clubs and others will abide by the guidelines that the state will put out.

“It’s really going to be on the health clubs to follow through on the protocols, which we all want to do for everybody’s safety,” Hatten said.

Ducey’s closure order mandated state officials to create requirements that gyms will have to follow when they get the green light to reopen. The first draft of the list was posted last month along with a form for gyms to submit to attest they are following orders to stay closed and will follow requirements to reopen when given clearance.

Tuesday’s ruling, however, said the attestation form doesn’t adequately give gyms a way to apply for reopening as set forth in the executive order.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has links to the requirements and form on top of its website.

The first draft of the requirements, dated July 22, included a provision that gyms and fitness centers would be able to operate only at or below 50% of fire code capacity.

A revised draft, dated July 31 and which is subject to change, calls for occupancy to remain at or below 25% of capacity.

The spread of coronavirus in Arizona has been slowing in the weeks after the implementation of face mask requirements in many areas — including all of Maricopa County — and the statewide executive orders to close certain businesses and restrict restaurant occupancy.

Those moves were made after the state became a global hot spot for the coronavirus, which has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms – which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the virus.

Arizona reported 1,698 new coronavirus cases and 87 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s documented totals to 182,203 COVID-19 infections and 3,932 fatalities.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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