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GOVERNOR’S ORDER: Gym and salon industries react to new restrictions

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Rochester Athletic Club

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Last week, restrictions on the hospitality industry like bars and restaurants went into effect.

This week, Governor Tim Walz' new order means new closures. New places are impacted, including gyms and fitness centers.

"The last nine months have been extremely hard financially, as with any small business right now that's going through shutdowns," said Brent Frueh, general manager of Rochester Athletic Club.

It is especially devastating after costly extra safety measures.

"The list is long on the things we've tried to do to keep this place safe. The sanitation methods we've used," Frueh said. "There's no question the people coming here right now feel more safe here than in the big retail stores."

While data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows 48 outbreaks at gyms statewide, the RAC's general manager believes its size allows it to avoid that possibility.

"The limits that we're allowed to have by law is about seven percent of our capacity," Frueh said.

He says he is disappointed by the state's decision.

One industry unaffected this time around is hair salons, only seeing five outbreaks statewide. That's less than one percent.

"I felt like we were pretty safe because, knock on wood, we haven't had any cases of COVID within the salon," said Shauna Anderson, owner of Men Salon.

While they are happy to stay open, it has been a difficult year for Men Salon as well.

"Combination of clients cutting their hair of home, clients realizing they can do longer between haircut appointments because they are not in the office and clients that do not want to go out in public yet," Anderson said. "Business has really slowed down for us."

Projected sales are down by 50 percent. Men Salon has tried creative new ways of making extra income like a clothing line.

However, Men Salon values safety over profit.

"We have had to turn a couple of clients away because of a high temperature," Anderson said. "They've taken it really well."

In addition to a necessary service, Anderson says the safe process at salons is a solution for lack of social interaction.

Frueh believes gyms are a solution for the mental stress caused by the pandemic.

"To close down a solution is taking a lot away from the community," the RAC's general manager said.

While the gym industry makes up 14 percent of known community spread COVID-19 cases according to MDH data, the biggest portion is attributed to bars and restaurants at 53 percent.

More than seven cases tied to a business is considered at an outbreak. The 11 cases attributed to Whistle Binkies on the Lake in October is one of six restaurant outbreaks in the Med City and 139 statewide. The other outbreaks have occurred at Buffalo Wild Wings, Crave, Dooley's, Five West and Texas Roadhouse.

Alex Tejada

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