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Manteca Council wants to re- open gyms but . . .
gym closed

The majority of the Manteca City Council is unwilling for now to buck Governor Gavin Newsom to allow the further reopening of the local economy to include nail saloons as well as health clubs and gyms.

But if the governor doesn’t give San Joaquin County the green light in a few days to allow more business concerns such as gyms to open they’ve told City Manager Miranda Lutzow to fire off a letter to the governor’s office.

That was the message they had for Manteca resident Taylor Barnett when he made a plea for the council on Tuesday to re-open gyms that included ones owned by “little guys” that are teetering on the verge of going out of business due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Lutzow noted the city has repeatedly explained it lacks the police manpower to enforce the social distancing protocols especially now with heightened concerned of violence, vandalism, and looting in the aftermath of George Floyd’s from having a knee of a Minneapolis police officer placed on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The city in recent weeks said it would tell citizens lodging stay at home or social distancing complaints to call the sheriff’s department or the CHP instead. In short, city management inferred businesses that aren’t allowed to reopen may want to weigh whether they should.

That prompted City Attorney John Brinton to warn that state or county officials that issue any permits a business may need to be open legally could yank them.

Barnett is among Manteca residents who are forced to go to gyms in Stanislaus County to do a workout even though San Joaquin County has more than sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients and meets other reopening criteria.

Barnett argued that concerns about the city losing money seems to be misplaced given the governor hasn’t followed through on threats to withhold state money from Yuba and Sutter counties when they started reopening before the governor allowed them to do so.

He added that Atwater essentially declared its self a sanctuary city for all businesses and allowed all concerns to reopen if they wished without suffering repercussions from the state.

Lutzow noted getting out in front of the governor would likely mean the loss of reimbursement for the city’s COVID-19 response efforts that has now surpassed $100,000. She also said city and county officials were told by state officials that guidance for reopening gyms and such would be posted on the state’s website by now to allow jurisdictions and affected businesses to start preparing for reopening when it is allowed but such information has not been posted.

Dave Breitenbucher, the only council member advocating to go ahead and reopen the rest of Manteca with the proper protocols in place instead of waiting for Newsom, said it was unlikely the state would be reimbursing the city for much of anything given “the $54 billion hole they blew in the budget” due to their COVID-19 response.

Breitenbucher argued that the “cure is doing more damage” than COVID-19 has to Manteca.

Brinton added that the city could possibly loose access to government produced vaccines when they are available should Manteca basically drop the local COVID-19 emergency.

If the letter to the governor would accomplish anything is dicey at best as Newsom is allowing counties as opposed to individual cities to reopen at different rates if they meet certain criteria. That means he would need to be convinced San Joaquin County is ready to reopen further.


Some of rules proposed for

gyms, cinemas & restaurants

The city has devised protocols for gyms to reopen along with other “problematic” businesses that have a high level of human interaction such as movie theaters. The city plans to forward those protocols to the governor is they send the letter to show Newsom they can reopen responsibly.

  Among the gym and health club rules:

*Sanitation wipes must be at or near each piece of equipment with users required to wipe down equipment before and after each use.

*Workers must patrol patron areas to enforce equipment wipe downs and conduct additional cleanings during times when the equipment is not used.

*Cardio machines must be limited to every other one being used to enforce social distancing.

*Group exercise classes will not take place.

*In-facility child care services will not be provided.

*Congregating between non-cohabitating members will be prohibited.

*Patrons will be encouraged to conduct their workout and exit the facility without unnecessary delay.

*Hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms and tanning beds will be closed.

*Limit locker room use and avoid use if possible.

*Require patrons to spray showers with a provided cleaning spray after each use.

*Workers would be required to clean and sanitize bathrooms and locker rooms throughout the hours the gym is open in addition to the regular cleaning schedule.

Among the movie theater rules:

*Each party of patrons must be seated at least six feet apart. No party seated together may have more than six individuals.

*At least one usher must be used in each theater room before and at some point during each showing to ensure proper social distancing protocol is enforced.

*Seats, armrests, handrails, doors, doorknobs, and door handles in each theater must be sanitized before and after each showing,

*Social distancing tape must be applied to floors at ticket counters and concession stands.

 *Restrooms must be cleaned and disinfected regularly and touch points must be cleaned no less than once each hour.

*Arcade rooms and games must be closed.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email