Most Recent COVID-19 Wave Results in Gym Closures

The most recent wave of COVID-19 has brought about the temporary closure of many US climbing gyms again--especially in California. Sender One, pictured here, has reclosed all its facilities but will continue to be able to hold its unique youth camps. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Tan / Sender One)
November climbing gym closures saw Sender One SNA closing as well
The most recent COVID-19 wave has resulted in a new round of gym closures—especially in California, which follows a tiered reopening system. Sender One, pictured here, has reclosed all its facilities but will continue to be able to hold its unique youth camps. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Tan / Sender One)

Cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise at a national level, part of what many medical experts consider to be a fall spike in the ongoing pandemic. As a result, many states and municipalities have begun announcing widespread closures in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus—and climbing gyms are just one of the many types of businesses directly impacted.

Last week, Climbing Business Journal reported on California’s statewide tiered reopening system, whereby businesses in many counties—including climbing gyms—were allowed to reopen with varying capacities, depending on a given county’s Coronavirus metrics. But earlier this week, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced that the state’s number of daily Coronavirus cases had doubled in the past 10 days, resulting in 40 counties being moved into a more restrictive tier. The L.A. Times noted that a total of 41 California counties have now been placed in the most restrictive purple tier, a tier that does not allow gyms to open standard indoor offerings.

“With the increase in cases, we are having to close our doors once again at Sender One SNA. It’s important that we continue to stay safe and healthy,” stated a message on Sender One’s Instagram page. Sender One is one of the many gyms in California that is temporarily closing its climbing walls once again―although Sender One has been able to continue holding its youth camps under the state guidelines, with strict safety protocols in place. A comparable Instagram post by Rockreation, a gym with facilities in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa, stated, “Following Governor Newsom’s mandate, Orange County is now back in the purple tier. We will be temporarily closing our doors to stay in compliance with the state mandate.”

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Other states are bearing the brunt of recent COVID-19 case spikes as well. For example, New Mexico recently reported more than 1,200 Coronavirus cases, prompting a local news outlet—KOB 4—to determine a 9.5 percent Coronavirus positivity rate across the state. As a result, the state’s government instructed residents “to stay home except for outings absolutely necessary for health, safety and welfare.” In response, New Mexico climbing gyms—such as Stone Age in Albuquerque and Santa Fe Climbing Center—temporarily closed on November 16 as part of a state mandate.

In a letter on its website addressed to its members, Santa Fe Climbing Center stated: “We think that the whole Santa Fe Climbing Center community has done a great job during this Covid-19 pandemic. We would like to thank all of you for respecting our Covid Safe Measures. While we have been open, we have had no confirmed Covid-19 positive cases in any of our members or staff. Unfortunately, Covid-19 is spreading rapidly out of control in New Mexico. To continue our efforts to protect our community and slow the spread we will have to close the Santa Fe Climbing Center from November 16th-30th 2020.”

Many additional states that have not mandated such widespread closures are still teetering with policies that could change at any moment. For instance, also on November 16, Colorado added new rules to its own color-based system for measuring COVID-19 cases and regulating business capacities. For gyms in Boulder, Denver, and other counties, according to CPR News this means operating at 10 percent capacity or 10 people per room in the severe “risk” red level—down from 25 percent or 25 people per room—and closure in the “extreme risk” purple level. Most climbing gyms in that state remain open at the time of this writing, but COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are on the rise.

On Monday, November 23, the Climbing Wall Association will hold a community call on the gym reclosures “to provide information and resources to help you navigate the next few months and advocate to your local authorities for the best reopening policies.” Stay tuned to CBJ for more news and updates during this period as information becomes available.

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