On May 14, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-123 titled the “Full Phase One” of the Governor’s plan to re-open businesses that had previously been closed in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Order builds on the Governor’s initial Phase One order issued April 29 (opening retail and restaurants) and the Expanding Phase One order issued May 9 (opening barbershops and cosmetology salons). Florida’s Full Phase One order went into effect on May 18.
Under Full Phase One, additional businesses, including gyms and fitness centers, which Yoga Alliance interprets to include yoga studios, may re-open at 50 percent capacity. Further, previously opened businesses (retail, restaurants, barbershops, and salons) may operate at 50 percent capacity (up from 25 percent). The Governor also lifted restrictions on Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which were previously prohibited from joining the initial Phase One re-opening alongside the rest of the state. The details of Miami-Dade and Broward County delays are included below.
To support our members navigating this dynamic situation, we have summarized Executive Order 20-123 and the state’s health and safety guidelines for businesses and will provide updates for members as the landscape continues to change. The Governor’s orders also allow local authorities to adopt requirements that are stricter than the state’s, so local authorities may issue new and differing guidelines at any point.
As you know, on March 15, We issued our recommendation that in-person yoga instruction ceases 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 April 30, as states began lifting restrictions, we issued Best Practice Recommendations to guide our community’s re-opening and recovery. These best practices recommendations for yoga schools, businesses, and professionals are designed to support individual planning and decision-making to prioritize the health and safety of yoga teachers, students, practitioners, and our communities.
Understanding Florida’s Re-opening Orders & Health and Safety Guidelines for Businesses
During Full Phase One, which Florida businesses may re-open, and at what capacity?
Under Full Phase One of Florida’s re-opening plan, the following businesses may resume operations:
- Restaurants and food establishments at up to 50 percent of their indoor seating capacity, and with outdoor seating complying with social distancing;
- In-store retail establishments at up to 50 percent building occupancy;
- Museums and libraries at up to 50 percent building occupancy;
- Professional sports venues, for training, competitions, events, and games;
- Amusement parks, provided they first submit a re-opening plan to the State and the plan is endorsed by the County Mayor;
- Vacation rentals, provided the county submits a safety plan and obtains approval from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR); and
- Gyms and fitness centers, including yoga studios, at up to 50 percent building occupancy.
Please note Miami-Dade and Broward counties were behind on re-opening. In the Governor’s first re-opening Order, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties were not permitted to join Phase One re-opening. These restrictions were lifted for Palm Beach County on May 11, and Broward and Miami-Dade counties on May 18.
Palm Beach County has now entered Full Phase One alongside the rest of the state, but Miami-Dade and Broward counties are easing into Phase One as follows:
- In Miami-Dade County, the following businesses may not re-open: bars, night clubs, movie theaters, concert houses, bowling alleys, arcades, hotels and commercial lodging, pools, tattoo parlors, massage parlors, and gyms and fitness studios (which Yoga Alliance interprets to include yoga studios).
- In the City of Miami, retail, personal grooming businesses, offices, and some parks may begin re-opening on May 20, and restaurants on May 27. There is no stated target date for gym and fitness facilities (including yoga studios) re-opening.
- The City of Miami Beach is following Miami-Dade County’s lead—thus, gyms (and yoga studios) are still currently closed.
- Starting May 26, commercial gyms and fitness centers, including yoga studios, were given permission to re-open in Broward County (encompassing Fort Lauderdale) at up to 50 percent building occupancy.
Due to these counties and cities moving at a different pace and issuing their own re-opening guidance, it is important that yoga businesses continue to check with county and city resources for up-to-date re-opening information.
Are businesses required to open?
No. Executive Order 20-123 provides businesses may begin operations at a limited capacity, but it does not require businesses to re-open.
Yoga Alliance strongly encourages all yoga businesses to carefully consider health and safety guidelines and make operational plans that prioritize the health and safety of yoga teachers, students, practitioners, and our communities, 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?
In addition to adhering to capacity limitations, Executive Order 20-123 requires that gyms and fitness centers (and yoga studios) enforce appropriate social distancing for classes and provide sufficient cleaning supplies to ensure patrons self-clean surfaces and machines after each use. The Order also directs businesses to follow guidance promulgated by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which has issued industry-specific health and safety protocols for certain re-opened businesses including gyms and fitness centers. The DBPR’s guidelines include both a mandatory and recommended best practices component.
Per the DBPR guidelines, the following safety measures are mandatory for gyms and fitness centers, including yoga studios:
- Offer readily-available EPA-approved disinfectant;
- Provide patrons with sufficient cleaning materials, including disposable wipes, and instruct patrons to clean touched surfaces and equipment after use;
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect all seating, counters, weights, mats, machines, and other fitness equipment upon closing each day;
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, particularly high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs;
- Clean and disinfect restrooms and maintain them with handwashing supplies or hand sanitizer; and
- Employees who appear to have symptoms must immediately be separated from others and sent home.
The DBPR also recommends the following:
- Post signage throughout the facility reminding patrons of safety protocols, including wiping and sanitizing touched surfaces and equipment after each use;
- Keep doors open between separate fitness areas or rooms to avoid surface touching by multiple people;
- Open windows to improve ventilation; and
- Remove all unnecessary, frequently touched items such as magazines, service menus, or other paper products and décor in waiting areas or locker rooms.
What local health and safety requirements are in effect for businesses?
At present, many of Florida’s major counties and cities, such as Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville, are adhering to the guidelines promulgated by the Governor and DBPR. Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, and the City of Miami Beach have issued their own enterprise-specific guidelines, but gyms and fitness centers are not currently included. These guidelines will likely be updated with guidance for gyms and fitness centers, including yoga studios, once these businesses are permitted to re-open.
Broward County, however, has issued its own re-opening requirements for commercial gyms and fitness centers. These county requirements include:
- Patrons must wear facial coverings except for when physically working out and during their cool-down;
- Provide a separate exit and entrance to the facility when possible;
- Make dispensers of EPA-approved disinfectants available;
- Provide patrons with sufficient cleaning materials, including disposable wipes, at all entrances and at various locations throughout the facility;
- Prominently display hygiene signage at all entrances;
- Require all employees and patrons to sanitize their hands upon entering the facility, after using each piece of equipment, and upon completing their fitness routine;
- Place social distancing markers in front of the reception/membership desk and all other appropriate areas;
- Each piece of cardiovascular equipment or exercise station must be distanced ten feet apart, except that spacing can be six feet if non-cloth protective barriers, such as plexiglass or panels, are placed between equipment and regularly sanitized;
- Social distancing between persons engaged in any physical activity should be measured from head to head;
- Disinfecting wipes must be available throughout the facility and patrons must sanitize equipment between each use. The equipment must be allowed to fully dry before the next use.
- Staff must monitor the exercise area to ensure equipment is sanitized if patrons fail to do so;
- Ensure all used sanitized products have adequate time to dry;
- Remove unnecessary chairs, tables, or furniture and all magazines or similar items;
- Discontinue providing heart monitors, mats, blocks, bolsters, or similar equipment to customers;
- During daily operation, routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, particularly high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, light switches, furniture, and equipment;
- Restrooms must be sanitized hourly, and soap must be readily available for patrons;
- Deep clean the facility at least once every twenty-four hours;
- Patrons must have their temperatures taken upon entrance, and any patron with a temperature above 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit or who appears to have flu-like symptoms must be denied entry;
- Employees must wear face coverings and have their temperatures checked prior to coming to work. An employee with a temperature above 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit or who appears to have flu-like symptoms, or becomes sick during the day, must be immediately separated from others and sent home;
- Keep doors open between separate fitness areas or rooms of the facility to reduce surface touching;
- Open windows where feasible to improve ventilation;
- Shower facilities must remain closed;
- Consider offering “senior hours” or designated times for elderly and high-risk groups.
If a facility cannot comply with the above requirements, the facility must remain closed.
Because the Governor’s orders allow local authorities to adopt requirements that are stricter than the state’s, these local authorities may issue new and differing guidelines at any point. As such, yoga businesses should be sure to check county and city resources to determine whether there are any local safety measures that depart from state guidance.
Are there any other public guidelines or restrictions in place that may affect yoga businesses?
Under Phase One, Florida residents are directed to limit their personal interactions outside the home but may leave to perform essential activities and visit re-opened businesses. Senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions are strongly encouraged to stay home and take all measures to limit COVID-19 exposure. Residents should avoid congregating in large groups, and local jurisdictions are charged with ensuring that groups of no more than ten people congregate in any public space that does not allow for social distancing. Floridians are also directed to avoid non-essential travel and quarantine themselves per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel guidelines when returning from any area with a significant presence of COVID-19.
In addition to state and local guidance, the Governor has recommended that businesses follow public health and workplace safety guidelines issued by the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
What should yoga businesses who are thinking about re-opening consider?
Executive Order 20-123 leaves it to businesses to determine when they should open and how to do so safely. Yoga businesses should consider the terms of the Governor’s re-opening orders, the DBPR’s industry-specific safety protocols, as well as guidance from federal and state public health and workplace safety agencies, and county and city leaders.
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 the spreading of and exposure to COVID-19 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 Florida and across the United States. We will continue to develop resources for our members, which are available on our Community Resource site
Reach out to us with feedback, questions, or concerns at 1-888-921-9642 (YOGA) or at email@example.com. Thank you for the work that you do for your communities—always, and especially now in these difficult times.
Your Yoga Alliance