Gyms and fitness centers in Philadelphia will be allowed to reopen on Monday for the first time since March, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was made during the city’s daily coronavirus press conference on Thursday.

Masks must be worn at all times inside these facilities, the city says. Plus, extreme ocial distancing and occupancy policies will be in effect.

The city warns that all of these policies will be strictly enforced. In fact, fitness centers are encouraged to use as much outdoor space as possible for their programs.

City officials were pretty blunt in their warnings that masks must be worn at all times inside these facilities.

“For those many people who find it difficult to do vigorous exercise with a mask, do not go to the gym,” the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley said on Thursday.

City officials will plan vigorous enforcement of these policies as well, and the gyms will be held accountable. All gyms and fitness centers will be subject to announced and unscheduled inspections, Farley said on Thursday.

“Our biggest concern is when people are doing vigorous aerobic exercises, they may not want to wear a mask,” Farley said. “We are putting the onus on the gym management to enforce those policies (wearing masks).”

Gyms have been closed in Philadelphia since March under the city's orders to control the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, gyms elsewhere in the state have been allowed to open as the state entered the green phase of Governor Wolf's reopening plan. The city, which is currently in a modified version of that green phase, has not allowed gyms to open.

If case counts rise again in the city, gyms may be ordered to close again, possibly within a few weeks, they warn.

"If people are not wearing masks when our inspectors go in there, we will be closing those facilities. If we have cases of the coronavirus that are linked to gyms, we will close facilities," Farley says. "And if the epidemic surges, we may require the entire sector for gyms to close as part of a larger shutdown. That possibility still exists, especially with the epidemic trending in the wrong direction right now."

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