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24 Hour Fitness COO touts COVID-19 protocols; asks California leaders to ease restrictions

24 Hour Fitness Chief Operating Officer Karl Sanft gave state and local officials a guided tour of the chain’s downtown Sacramento location Wednesday, highlighting the facility’s COVID-19 provisions while asking policymakers to consider easing capacity restrictions.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked questions of Sanft and his staff as they made their way through the 48,000-square-foot facility, which is next to Golden 1 Center in the Downtown Commons. City Council members Angelique Ashby and Eric Guerra, Assemblyman Jim Cooper and Danielle Stumpf from the California Department of Health and Human Services also participated in the tour.

“It’s more important than ever to take care of your physical health and your mental health,” Steinberg said. “I’ve said oftentimes over the past seven or eight months that COVID-19 is the pandemic, but mental health and mental illness might be the epidemic because this has been an extraordinarily difficult time for people.”

Sanft said 24 Hour Fitness is adapting after its industry and so many others were decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. He noted the company has closed more than 140 gyms since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is June, including the Carmichael location on Arden Way.

“The impact to the business has been tragic,” Sanft said. “… The impact on our team members and members alike has been nothing short of tragic.”

Sanft said protocols put in place at 24 Hour Fitness locations have been effective. He pointed to the fitness center’s touchless check-in system, social distancing measures and safety-first approach to reopening amid the pandemic. General manager Tony Cigliutti said staff and members undergo temperature checks and health screenings before entering the facility. Masks are required at all times and areas including the swimming pool, steam room and sauna are closed.

The downtown location is currently limited to a capacity of 102 members under red-tier restrictions, 10% of the building’s normal capacity. Sanft is asking state and local leaders to increase that number to 25%, saying the building is big enough to safely accommodate 250 members while maintaining proper social distancing.

“We believe that we can operate at higher levels of occupancy,” Sanft said. “Our request, candidly, is 25%” within the red tier.

24 Hour Fitness provided data showing nearly 9.5 million people have checked in at 24 Hour Fitness locations across the country since the pandemic began in March. From June 12 to Oct. 15, 44 employees and 38 members of 24 Hour Fitness tested positive for COVID-19, but none of those cases were contracted at 24 Hour Fitness facilities, the company said.

“What’s really interesting about the fitness industry is, unlike many other businesses, everybody checks in,” Sanft said. “So it’s really simple for us to not only know who was here, but know who was here at the same time.

“Contact tracing is very easy for us to do. Across the clubs that we operate in the 13 states where we do business, we have yet to have a COVID case be traced back to one of our clubs,

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