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 14, Governor Edwards issued Proclamation No. 58 JBE 2020, announcing Phase One of “Resilient Louisiana,” the state’s re-opening plan. The Proclamation went into effect on May 15 upon expiration of previous executive proclamations, which had closed numerous non-essential businesses in the state to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Under Phase One, many businesses are permitted to re-open, including gyms and fitness facilities, which Yoga Alliance has interpreted to include yoga studios. Businesses resuming operations are required to adhere to strict capacity limitations and follow health and safety guidelines. Further, the City of New Orleans has issued its own restrictions and guidelines, including a prohibition on group classes as gyms, fitness facilities, dance studios, and yoga studios. To support our members navigating this dynamic situation, we have summarized at length this Phase One Proclamation 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 practices 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 Louisiana’s Re-Opening Orders and Health and Safety Guidelines for Businesses
Proclamation No. 58 is the first step in Governor Edwards’ three-phase re-opening plan, which will continue to progress based on the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana. Phase Two, which will include further loosening of restrictions, may begin, at the earliest, in two weeks if there has been a consistent decrease in positive cases. Should the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increase, however, the Governor may put the state back under full restrictions. The following details pertain to Phase One of the re-opening plan.
During Phase One, which Louisiana businesses may re-open and at what capacity?
Under Phase One of Louisiana’s re-opening plan, the follow businesses are permitted to re-open at 25 percent their total occupancy as determined by the State Fire Marshal, including employees:
- Dine-in restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops;
- Beauty shops, salons, and barber shops;
- Shopping malls;
- Churches and other faith-based organizations;
- Casinos, racetracks, and video poker establishments;
- Museums, zoos, and aquariums;
- Gyms and fitness centers, which Yoga Alliance expects includes yoga businesses; and
- Any other business or organization that is not: a massage parlor, tattoo parlor, or place of public amusement, including but not limited to: amusement parks, water parks, arcades, pools halls, playgrounds, concert halls, bowling alleys, or other similar businesses.
The City of New Orleans has issued its own re-opening plan, which began on May 16. The city’s plan places stricter operational limits on certain businesses, such as theaters and churches, and requires restaurants and hair and beauty salons to retain the names of their patrons for contact tracing. Gym facilities, including yoga studios, are also subject to somewhat stricter safety protocols, as outlined below.
To date, New Orleans is the only municipality with its own local re-opening rules, although Proclamation No. 58 does not prohibit other municipalities from also creating their own guidance which would need to be followed.
Are businesses required to open?
Proclamation No. 58 states that the above-listed businesses may re-open, but it does not require them to do so.
Yoga Alliance strongly encourages all yoga businesses to carefully consider health and safety guidelines and 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?
In addition to adhering to capacity limitations, gyms and fitness centers must abide by the following:
- All owners and employees must maintain social distancing (six feet) between themselves and the public;
- Employees interacting with the public must wear face coverings at all times;
- Waiting rooms, lobbies, or other areas where members of the public congregate must close, except for restrooms; and
- Sanitization and disinfection procedures from the State Fire Marshal must be followed.
Consistent with the above requirements, the State Fire Marshal’s Office has published industry-specific health protocols. For gyms and fitness centers, including yoga studios, the guidance recommends the following:
Occupant Capacity and Building Safety Rules
- Maximum building capacity is limited to 25 percent, defined as either (1) one person per 120 sq. ft. of gross area; or (2) 25 percent of the State Fire Marshal’s posted capacity.
- Make arrangements to allow at least a six foot distance between patrons and employees.
- Do not allow physical contact between employees and patrons.
- Do not permit indoor waiting areas.
- Avoid gathering while entering, exiting, or moving about the facility.
- Limit locker room use to maintain six foot distancing.
- Clean visibly dirty and high-touch surfaces.
- Follow CDC guidance for proper cleaning and disinfecting.
- Actively enforce capacity and social distancing requirements.
- Ensure exterior waiting areas are not blocked.
- Check for fever and respiratory symptoms daily.
- Maintain a six foot distance from coworkers and patrons.
- Wear face coverings in accordance with state guidance.
- Frequently wash hands and use hand sanitizer between each task and customer check-out.
- Avoid physical contact with others.
- Sanitize surfaces and items that are touched often.
- Regularly clean and disinfect restrooms.
- Clean and disinfect equipment after each use.
- Gloves are only recommended for those who typically wear gloves and not for tasks that do not normally require them.
- First clean the area with soap, water, or other detergent.
- Next clean with an EPA-approved disinfectant, if possible. Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used.
A business may register with the State Fire Marshal in order to receive updated communications, notifications, and guidance.
What additional health and safety requirements are in effect for New Orleans Businesses?
In addition to following state-wide health and safety guidelines, the City of New Orleans is also requiring all businesses to:
- Prohibit individuals from entering the premises if they have symptoms of the illness;
- Require all customers, clients, and visitors wear face coverings while on the premises, and have unused face coverings available for those who do not have one;
- Post signage at all entrances clearly indicating the customer face covering requirement;
- Require employees to wear face coverings in the presence of others;
- Open doors and windows to promote air flow to the greatest extent possible;
- Limit the number of people occupying an indoor space to comply with social distancing guidelines;
- Provide workers with easy access to soap and water or hand sanitizer and require frequent hand washing;
- Clean and disinfect all common spaces and frequently touched surfaces at the beginning, middle, and end of each shift and, if possible, prior to transfer from one person to another;
- Prohibit workers from reporting to work if sick or symptomatic, or if they have had contact with a COVID-19 positive person (14-day quarantine required);
- To the extent feasible, screen all employees for symptoms, including temperature checks where possible; and
- Register on the Louisiana State Fire Marshal website to receive sector-specific guidelines for re-opening and a certificate of Acknowledgement of Registration, which must be posted at all entrances.
Further, New Orleans has instituted the following restrictions for yoga studios, dance studios, gyms, and fitness facilities:
- Group classes are not allowed. Yoga Alliance interprets this prohibition on group classes to apply to any multi-person yoga classes.
- Use of locker rooms, showers, saunas, and spas is not allowed.
New Orleans’s Phase One guidelines also expressly prohibit gatherings in groups larger than a household size, even in outdoor spaces.
Are there any other public guidelines or restrictions in place that may affect yoga businesses?
Proclamation No. 58 generally provides that all individuals should avoid groups of any size that do not allow for social distancing. High-risk individuals, such as those over the age of 65 or those with underlying health conditions, should remain at home unless traveling outside the home for an essential activity.
The Louisiana Department of Health has also issued various guidelines for residents and businesses on its website, which largely incorporates pertinent guidance from the CDC.
What should yoga businesses thinking about re-opening consider?
Proclamation No. 58 leaves it to businesses to determine when they should open and how to do so safely. Yoga businesses should consider the terms of Proclamation No. 58 and the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s fitness facility-specific health protocols, as well as guidance from federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety agencies.
We recognize that adherence to social distancing, sanitation, protective equipment, maximum occupancy, 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 Louisiana and across the United States. We will continue to develop resources for our members which are available our COVID-19 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