Gyms to stop indoor operations again as Sacramento and Placer drop to purple COVID-19 tier

Working out is not working out — again.

Gyms and fitness centers in the Sacramento area are closing their doors to indoor business after a return to restrictions Tuesday to slow soaring COVID-19 cases.

Sacramento and Placer counties on Tuesday landed on the most stringent purple tier that requires many indoor operations, including restaurants and places of worship, to again move outdoors or go online. The counties join demoted Stanislaus and San Diego counties in the most strict “widespread” tier.

Déjà vu is wearing on D’Lee Daleo, co-owner of Switch Fitness in Elk Grove. Daleo’s two-year-old studio tucked into a small shopping center off Elk Grove Boulevard has ridden the waves of coronavirus closings and reopenings. Daleo moved classes online months ago to work around the closures and her in-person classes had started showing signs of life again — five to six classes of 10 people per day, by her count.

Place cards on the exercise floor of her east Elk Grove studio show attendees where to stand to maintain their space. The No. 4 card could stand in as a mantra during this difficult time: “Just keep breathing.”

“We were just at the point where we started making a little money, then, bam, we’re shut down. It’s been a ride,” Daleo said of the initial coronavirus stops and starts. Now, she’s bracing for a new round.

“We were just starting to fill up again when this happened,” Daleo said. “It’s been a struggle. It’s going to be hard. But we don’t want to give up. We’re not giving up.”

A new daily high in Sacramento County

Tuesday’s demotion puts counties like Sacramento on the clock. Those businesses will have until Friday to implement the changes, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Sacramento County added 484 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday — an apparent new single-day high and reminiscent of the rapid rise in cases earlier in the summer.

Sacramento County averaged 9.7 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the state’s assessment this week that looks at data from Oct. 25-31, surpassing the 7.0 needed to remain in the red tier.

Pandemic fatigue, house parties, family gatherings and ignoring mask requirements look to have stoked the latest spikes, health officials say.

Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye tied the high numbers to Halloween.

“This past weekend, we saw a sharp increase (in cases) probably due to Halloween celebrations,” Kasirye said Tuesday. “People are ignoring our advice not to gather and we are feeling the impacts of that.”

Introduction of the state’s color tiers

California implemented its color-coded, four-tier system for COVID-19 reopening Sept. 8 after a weeks-long pause in July and August as summer cases spiked.

For the region’s gyms, their roller coaster ride continues. Shuttered for months during the early stages of the pandemic, businesses like Daleo’s turned outside to converted parking lots to salvage their summer only to face triple-digit heat and choking smoke from a state ablaze.

Meanwhile, a number of other fitness centers across the Sacramento area have closed temporarily or have gone virtual, moving their classes online.

Now with a newly soaring California COVID-19 caseload, local fitness centers are bracing again for impact.

In Placer County, Tony Blankenship, owner of the 9Round kickboxing gym in Lincoln, said he has to prepare for the worst. He said his gym members can go back to online workouts, or use his as it will follow guidelines.

“It’s frustrating for all of us in this line of work, or any work, but we’re going to remain positive and hope for the best,” Blankenship said. “That’s all we can do.”