The fitness industry has been one of the hardest hit industries due to COVID-19 and completely overlooked by the government. Fitness studios and gyms are often the first to be regulated to close, and the last to be able to open. Furthermore, due to the increased difficulty in breathing while exercising, mask mandates hit our attendance more severely than any other industry. Additionally, mask mandates severely discourage many from working out regularly, which has a number of proven negative health related repercussions including weight gain, elevated stress, and mental health deterioration.
According to a recent poll, fitness studios and gyms in Boston are down over 50% in YTD revenue and attendance due to COVID-19 compared to 2019. Continued mask mandates will further decrease this number by an estimated 25-35%. These businesses have been given NO additional funding or direct funding by local, state, or federal governments and many will not survive the newly reinstated Boston mask mandate. To date, 28% of fitness businesses have already gone out of business in MA since March of 2020, compared to approximately 20% of restaurants. It goes without saying that the fitness industry has been completely overlooked by governing officials.
The fitness community provides a safe, healthy, and supportive space for those looking for a community and a healthy activity. In fact, 95% of Boston fitness customers in a recent survey said their mental health was directly tied to their ability to workout.
This petition is asking that the Mayor of Boston allow fitness studios and gyms to have the ability to waive the mask mandate, if they a) require vaccinations OR b) check vaccine cards and allow vaccinated customers to workout without masks, and non vaccinated customers to wear masks. Blanket mandates do not work for all industries and mask mandates severely reduce our attendance. Allowing businesses to choose which mandate works best for them, gives them the ability to stay in business while still controlling the spread of the virus.
This petition is also asking state and local officials to create TARGETED grants for the fitness industry, particularly local small fitness studios and gyms. $2.9 billion dollars, available to the state from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, have been proprosed for COVID-19 recovery by the Baker Administration. Many grants have previously been created to specifically aid small restaurants, and we are asking for targeted specific grants to aid gyms and fitness studios so we do not have to close our doors.