Some gyms and fitness centers in Wilmington opened last week.
And it’s not because Gov. Roy Cooper has decided to abandon the one-size-fits-all method of running the state.
The gyms, according to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, have a letter from the North Carolina attorney general’s office that states they’re allowed to be used “when that use is prescribed by or directed by a medical professional.”
Along with that letter the gyms in Wilmington are citing the Americans with Disabilities Act and other privacy rights as the reason that medical documentation need not be produced by those using the gyms.
Not reopening gyms and fitness centers is one of the more curious features of Cooper’s restrictions on businesses due to COVID-19. If the idea is to keep North Carolinians healthy, forcing gyms to remain closed while other businesses are allowed to open would appear to be counterproductive.
Georgia, which allowed allowed gyms to open on April 30, has reported no surge in coronavirus cases among those who workout regularly.
A bill passed the North Carolina legislature with bipartisan support on Tuesday, June 9 to reopen gyms and bars under similar restrictions as other businesses. Cooper has already vetoed a bill to reopen bars that also passed with bipartisan support. Cooper has 10 days to either sign or veto the bill after that it becomes law without his signature.
A lawsuit filed by a number of gym and fitness center owners, which included a request for a temporary restraining order to allow their businesses to open, was denied by a Wake County Superior Court judge on Wednesday, June 10.
Under the emergency powers act, as long as there is a declared state of emergency in North Carolina, Cooper is the supreme ruler and has the authority to mandate regulations such as the many stay-at-home and related orders and cannot be overruled by the state legislature.
Cooper can and has been overruled by a federal court judge who found that Cooper’s restrictions on religious institutions, holding them to much more stringent regulations than commercial enterprises, to be unconstitutional.
There is no First Amendment protection for the right to work out, but some gym owners in Wilmington have taken the letter from the state attorney general’s office as an avenue to open for business.
The state has not filed court action to close the gyms in Wilmington down, as it did in the case of Ace Speedway, which is at least an indication that their legal reasoning will not be challenged.