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NC Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, right, talks with Republican legislative leaders Sen. Phil Berger, left, and Rep. Tim Moore, second from left. News & Observer photo. NC Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, right, talks with Republican legislative leaders Sen. Phil Berger, left, and Rep. Tim Moore, second from left. News & Observer photo.

NC Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, right, talks with Republican legislative leaders Sen. Phil Berger, left, and Rep. Tim Moore, second from left. News & Observer photo.

Paul Specht
By Paul Specht June 25, 2020

How many states have reopened gyms?

If Your Time is short

  • North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican, is running for governor against incumbent Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
  • Forest, who has accused Cooper of reopening business sectors arbitrarily, tweeted that North Carolina is one of only four states that hasn't reopened gyms.
  • Most other states have reopened gyms with restrictions. And in a couple states, gyms opened after a court ruling -- not the governor's orders. But his claim is generally accurate.

Gov. Roy Cooper has kept gyms and fitness centers closed during the coronavirus outbreak, drawing criticism from his Republican challenger.

The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has been steadily rising in the Tar Heel state, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Cooper has said he worries that the heavy breathing associated with exercise could increase the spread of the virus. But Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the Republican who hopes to unseat Cooper in November, criticized the governor for picking pandemic "winners and losers."

On Monday, Forest said North Carolina is one of only a fraction of states keeping gyms closed.

"Now, 46 states have gyms/fitness centers open - North Carolina is one of four states that does not," Forest tweeted

Is that true?

Generally speaking, yes. Some states are taking a regional approach to reopening gyms. In those states, gyms are allowed to open in some counties but not others. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina are the only states where governors are keeping gyms closed across the board.

Tracking reopenings

Our review of virus-related executive orders tracked by CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the National Governors Association backs up Forest’s assessment.

Our review of these websites found that Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina are the only states keeping gyms closed across the board.

Featured Fact-check

Most other states have either reopened gyms with restrictions, or reopened gyms in some areas but not others. For example, in California, gyms are allowed to reopen in all but seven counties.

In Pennsylvania, 54 of the state’s 67 counties had entered a "green phase" by June 19, meaning gyms could reopen at reduced capacity. But 13 counties remained in the "yellow phase," meaning their gyms were still closed.

Things are moving a little slower in Washington, where less than half of the state’s 39 counties have entered Phase 3. That’s the phase when gyms can reopen at less than 50% capacity, according to the Seattle Times.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed some gyms to open on June 10, while others remained closed because they didn’t meet the state’s qualifications to reopen. But a federal judge recently halted the order, allowing all gyms to open on June 25. They’ll remain closed if Whitmer’s appeal is successful.

A similar situation happened in Wisconsin, too. Gov. Tony Evers didn’t lift his ban on gym operations. The ban was dissolved after the state Supreme Court struck down his stay-at-home order.

Our ruling

Forest tweeted that "46 states have gyms/fitness centers open" and that "North Carolina is one of four states that does not."

Our review found that North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts are the only states where gyms remain closed across the state.

It’s worth noting that, in other states, government leaders are opening gyms in some counties, but not others. But Forest’s wording is broad enough to account for that variation. 

We rate this claim True.

Our Sources

A tweet by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Story by CNN, "This is where each state is during its phased reopening," updated May 27, 2020.

Story by the New York Times, "See how all 50 states are reopening," updated June 24, 2020.

Stories by the Washington Post, "Where state are reopening after the U.S. shutdown," updated June 22, 2020; and "Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down governor’s extension of stay-at-home order," May 13, 2020.

Summary of state actions addressing business reopenings by the National Governors Association, updated June 23, 2020.

Story by the Los Angeles Times, "Which California counties are reopening?" updated June 24, 2020.

Press release from the office of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, "12 more counties to go green on June 26," issued June 19, 2020.

Story by the Seattle Times, "Reopening phases in Washington state: When you can get a haircut, go to the gym, or eat at restaurants as coronavirus lockdowns are lifted," updated June 3, 2020.

Story by the News Tribune, "Coronavirus updates: $45 million raised for state relief fund; Kittitas County approved for Phase 3," updated June 23, 2020.

Press release from the office of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, "Governor Whitmer signs Executive Orders reopening more regions, economic sectors under MI Safe Start plan," issued June 5, 2020.

Story by the Detroit News, "Federal judge orders Michigan gyms reopened June 25; Whitmer to appeal," updated June 19, 2020.

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