In recent weeks, most California counties have been following Governor Newsom’s Resilience Roadmap, a four stage county-by-county plan to re-open businesses and public spaces previously closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. As of June 12, many counties began permitting fitness facilities, which Yoga Alliance interprets to include yoga studios, to re-open, provided that certain health and safety measures are in place.
Our California members should understand how your county is handling re-opening, including the health and safety rules for businesses. To support our members navigating this dynamic situation, we have summarized the state’s re-opening plan and guidelines and will provide updates for members as the landscape continues to change.
As you know, on March 15, Yoga Alliance issued a 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 they play in their communities as civic leaders, trusted advisors, and holders of wisdom, and to prioritize the health and safety of their communities. We still stand by the spirit of this recommendation.
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 prioritize the health and safety of yoga teachers, students, practitioners, and our communities.
Understanding California’s Re-Opening Stages & Health and Safety Guidelines for Businesses
How does California’s re-opening plan work?
California’s re-opening plan, known as the Resilience Roadmap, identifies four stages, with the first being the most restrictive and the last representing an easing of all restrictions and lifting of the statewide stay at home order. Under each progressive stage, additional sectors, businesses, and activities, are permitted to re-open with health and safety adaptations. Currently, the entire state of California is in Stage 2, during which “lower risk workplaces,” including retail, manufacturing, and some offices, may resume in-person operations.
The re-opening plan, however, allows for county-by-county variations. California counties that meet certain public health criteria may receive a “variance” and move more quickly through the Roadmap stages or even open businesses in a different order. Counties are also permitted to move more slowly through the stages and continue or implement more restrictive public health measures as necessary based on county conditions.
Because counties are moving at different speeds—and many are issuing their own re-opening rules—members are encouraged to check with their own county resources for up-to-date re-opening information. The Los Angeles Times is also tracking the status of public health restrictions across counties.
Which businesses are permitted to re-open and when?
Effective May 8, all California counties were permitted to re-open the following businesses and sectors with health and safety modifications:
- Curb-side retail
- Childcare for those outside of the essential workforce
- Office-based businesses (with telework remaining strongly encouraged)
- Select services: carwashes, pet grooming, and landscape gardening
- Outdoor museums
Effective June 12, “variance counties” (i.e. those moving through the stages more quickly) were permitted to open the following businesses and sectors with health and safety modifications:
- Destination retail (retail stores), including shopping malls and swap meets
- Dine-in restaurants (other amenities, like bars or gaming areas, are not permitted in Stage 2)
- Schools with modifications
- Limited-capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies
- Day camps
- Campgrounds, RV parks, and outdoor recreation
- Cardrooms, satellite wagering facilities and racetracks
- Family entertainment centers and movie theaters
- Restaurants, bars, and wineries
- Fitness facilities (including yoga studios)
- Museums, galleries, zoos, and aquariums
- Music, TV, and film production
- Professional sports without live audiences
As of June 25, most California counties—54 of 58—are “variance counties,” meaning that they have met the readiness criteria to open additional businesses and sectors. However, not all counties permitted to open additional businesses have opted to do so. As such, it is important for members to check county-specific information.
The following businesses and sectors are not yet permitted to re-open in any county:
- Personal services such as nail salons and tattoo parlors
- Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas
- Concert venues
- Live audience sports
- Theme parks
- Higher education
Which California counties have permitted yoga facilities to re-open?
As of June 25, most California counties have permitted gyms and fitness facilities to re-open with health and safety modifications. Yoga Alliance interprets these rules to apply to yoga studios. Stricter measures are in place in the following counties:
- Alameda County has provided a projected schedule for business re-opening. Gyms (which should include yoga studios) are not currently permitted to re-open and the county has not yet issued a projected re-opening date.
- Contra Costa County has provided a projected schedule for when specific businesses and activities can resume. Fitness facilities (which should include yoga studios) are projected to reopen on July 1.
- Imperial County is currently in the statewide Stage 2. Fitness facilities (which should include yoga studios) are not permitted to re-open and do not yet have a projected re-opening date.
- Marin County has tentatively planned to re-open fitness facilities (which should include yoga studios) on June 29.
- San Francisco County has released a timeline for re-opening businesses. Gyms and fitness centers (which should include yoga studios) are projected to re-open in August. Outdoor yoga classes are permitted in San Francisco County provided that certain health and safety requirements are met.
- Santa Clara County has opened some businesses and sectors but not businesses and activities that promote close gatherings, direct personal contact, or prolonged interactions between groups of people. The county has not yet issued a projected re-opening date for fitness facilities (which should include yoga studios).
Are businesses required to open?
No. In counties where re-opening is permitted, businesses may begin operations with health and safety measures in place but are not required to re-open.
Yoga Alliance strongly encourages all yoga businesses to carefully consider health and safety guidelines and make operations 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 requirements and guidelines are in effect?
Prior to re-opening, all re-opening businesses and venues must adhere to five re-opening requirements:
- Perform a detailed risk assessment and create a site-specific protection plan.
- Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes how to screen themselves for symptoms and when to stay home.
- Set up individual control measures and screenings.
- Put disinfection protocols in place.
- Establish physical distancing guidelines.
Further, the California Department of Public Health has issued industry guidelines for fitness facilities, which we interpret to apply to yoga studios and yoga facilities. These guidelines contain many detailed health and safety measures designed to implement the five re-opening requirements set forth above.
Businesses must also adhere to any health-related regulatory requirements and guidance issued by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and be mindful of re-opening guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Finally, local health jurisdictions are permitted to implement and/or continue more restrictive public health measures. This means that local authorities may issue new and differing guidelines at any point. As such, yoga businesses should be sure to check local resources to determine whether they must implement local safety measures that depart from state rules and guidance.
Are there any other public guidelines or restrictions in place that may affect yoga businesses or practice?
Effective June 18, Californians must wear face coverings in common and public indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing is not possible. Members should review the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings for details on the face covering requirement and limited exceptions.
What should yoga businesses thinking about re-opening consider?
Yoga businesses should consider statewide and county public health orders, industry-specific safety protocols, and guidance from federal, state, and local 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. Our Best Practice Recommendations for yoga schools, businesses, and professionals 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 consult with its legal counsel and insurance provider.
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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