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As Gyms Reopen In Texas, Many Details Are Left To The Owners

Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions on the operation of gyms in Texas amid the coronavirus pandemic, effective Monday.


Until recently, Paper Street Crossfit in Midtown posted a sign indicating it was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. That changed Monday, after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted regulations keeping gyms closed.

Desirae Pierce and her teachers at Breath and Body Yoga in Austin have been doing classes over Zoom for the past two months. On Monday, they’ll start holding small, in-person classes at the Tarrytown studio.

While online classes were popular, Pierce says, she’s excited to bring back an in-person practice.

“I’m hopeful that we can all begin to put one foot forward," she said. "I don’t know if we can live at home for an extended period of time.”

Gyms and exercise facilities are allowed to reopen Monday under the latest phase of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to restart the Texas economy. The order states gyms can operate only at 25% capacity, and locker rooms and showers must stay closed.

That leaves other details about how to operate up to individual gym owners.

Depending on the room at the studio, Pierce said, only six or seven people will be allowed in a class so they can stay 6 feet apart.

​The instructors won’t be there, though. Pierce said she wants to start slow, so they’ll still be leading classes over Zoom. Students will follow along on a TV in the studio.

Pierce said she plans to have teachers return in June.

Abbott announced last month that Texas businesses would be allowed to reopen with limited capacity. The initial phase allowed retail stores, restaurants, malls and movie theaters to reopen. Salons and barbershops were allowed to open next.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt have said opening at this pace is risky without widespread testing. Austin and Travis County remain under stay-at-home orders and Adler and Eckhardt are asking the community to continue social distancing and wearing face coverings in public.

Harris County Public Health Executive Director Umair Shah on Monday told Houston Matters’ Craig Cohen that the county is better prepared to combat the virus than before, but that a second wave could create new problems, and strains on public health resources.

"The problem now is that we're adding the complexity of reopening, and reopening is going at a rate that may be faster than what I would have liked to have seen,” Shah said. “But now we're there, right? And so we have to do anything we can to prepare to protect our community."

But, Shah said, “I don't know if we are exactly ready for everything that's coming our way.”

This story originally appeared on KUT.

Additional reporting by Paul DeBenedetto.

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