As you know, on March 15, Yoga Alliance issued its recommendation that in-person yoga instruction cease in locations where social distancing had become the requirement or the norm. In issuing this recommendation, we called upon yoga professionals to consider the roles that they play in their communities as civic leaders, trusted advisors, and holders of wisdom, and therefore to prioritize the health and safety of their communities. We still stand by the spirit of this recommendation.
On May 12, Governor Ducey had closed numerous non-essential businesses in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Order 2020-36 builds on the Governor’s May 4 order, which allowed some businesses, such as retail, barbers, and dine-in restaurants, to re-open. Under the new Order, additional businesses are permitted to re-open at varying intervals.
Gyms and fitness providers, which Yoga Alliance interprets to include yoga studios, were able to re-open effective May 13. Under Executive Order 2020-36, businesses resuming operations are required to develop, establish, and implement policies to limit the spread of COVID-19 based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). To support our members navigating this dynamic situation, we have summarized at length Executive Order 2020-36 and the state’s health and safety guidelines for businesses.
Further, as states began lifting restrictions, on April 30, Yoga Alliance issued Best Practice Recommendations to guide our community’s re-opening and recovery. These best practice recommendations for yoga schools, businesses, and professionals are designed to support individual planning and decision-making to ensure the health and safety of yoga teachers, students, practitioners, and communities.
Understanding Arizona's Re-opening Orders and Health and Safety Guidelines for Businesses
Which Arizona businesses may re-open and when?
The following businesses have been permitted to re-open in Arizona:
- Beginning on May 8, in-store retail, barbers, and cosmetologists;
- Beginning on May 11, dine-in restaurants and coffee shops;
- Beginning May 13, pools, spas, gyms and fitness providers, including yoga studios;
- Beginning May 15, casinos; and
- Beginning May 16, movie theaters.
These re-opened businesses are not required to operate at a limited capacity but must follow the health and safety protocols outlined below.
Under Executive Order 2020-36, no county or municipality may issue any order or rule conflicting with or in addition to the Governor’s order, meaning this list of re-opened businesses cannot be expanded or restricted locally.
Are businesses required to open?
No. Executive Order 2020-36 does allow for more businesses to re-open. Accordingly, several Arizona businesses have delayed re-opening to allow more time to develop and implement safety protocols.
Yoga Alliance strongly encourages all yoga businesses make operations plans that prioritize health and safety, even if that means delaying opening for in-person yoga practice. Please refer to Yoga Alliance’s Best Practice Recommendations for re-opening and recovery detailed guidance.
For businesses that re-open, what health and safety guidelines are in effect?
Executive Order 2020-36 requires that all businesses develop, establish, and implement policies based on guidance from the CDC, DOL, OSHA, and ADHS to limit and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including the following measures:
- Promote healthy hygiene practices;
- Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation practices;
- Monitor for sickness;
- Ensure physical distancing;
- Provide necessary protective equipment;
- Allow for and encourage teleworking where feasible;
- Provide plans, where possible, to return to work in phases; and
- Limit groups to no more than 10 persons when feasible and in relation to the size of the facility.
ADHS has promulgated industry-specific guidance for each re-opened business. Guidance for gyms and fitness providers, including yoga studios, recommends these businesses do the following:
- Maintain social distancing;
- Provide and require employees to wear masks;
- Provide access to soap and water for handwashing, or place hand sanitizer stations around the facility for employees and patrons;
- Operate with reduced occupancy based on the size of the facility;
- Limit areas where employees and patrons can congregate;
- Sanitize equipment, e.g., yoga mats, before and after each use, and provide disposable disinfectant wipes, cleaner, or spray so patrons may wipe down equipment;
- Screen employees before their shifts;
- Post signage advising employees and patrons of safety protocols;
- Implement contactless check-ins;
- Consider requiring online bookings and limiting class sizes;
- Arrange equipment, e.g., yoga mats, to ensure appropriate social distancing;
- Consider limiting facility hours to allow for proper sanitation;
- Implement enhanced sanitation of locker room areas;
- Consider requiring patrons to bring their own towels, and otherwise launder items while wearing gloves; and
- Train employees on the above safety protocols.
ADHS guidance also recommends that patrons maintain a six foot distance from other patrons, avoid touching their faces, use touchless payment, apply hand sanitizer immediately after leaving the gym, and wash their hands when they arrive home.
Please note that federal and state guidelines are continuously evolving based on new information, which will require businesses to stay alert and be ready to adapt to changes.
Are there any other public guidelines or restrictions in place that may affect yoga businesses?
Although the Governor has removed many restrictions on residents and businesses, residents are still expected to maximize physical distance from others when out in public. Social settings where appropriate social distancing is impossible should be avoided, unless precautionary measures and CDC guidelines are followed. Vulnerable individuals, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are advised to limit their time away from home. Any individual found violating these best practices will be first notified and given an opportunity to comply before any enforcement action is taken.
What should yoga businesses thinking about re-opening consider?
Executive Order 2020-36 largely leaves it to businesses to determine when they should re-open and how to do so safely. Yoga businesses should consider the terms of Executive Order 2020-36, ADHS’s industry-specific guidance, and guidance from federal public health and workplace safety agencies.
We recognize that adherence to social distancing, sanitation, protective equipment, and other requirements may be a challenge for some yoga businesses. We have issued Best Practice Recommendations for yoga schools, businesses, and professionals to support individual efforts to operate in a way that prioritizes and protects the health and safety of our communities.
Yoga Alliance strongly recommends that each business develop a plan for how it will implement measures to mitigate COVID-19 exposure and spread and to consult with its legal counsel and insurance provider.
We know that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated government orders and guidance have created many unanswered questions and concerns. We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 restrictions and moves to re-open businesses in Arizona and across the United States. We will continue to develop resources for our members, which are available on our COVID-19 resource site.
Reach out to us with feedback, questions, or concerns at 1-888-921-9642 (YOGA) or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for the work that you do for your communities—always, and especially now in these difficult times.
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