Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Jerry Morgan introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday to provide gyms financial relief after they struggled to stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Gym Mitigation and Survival Act would establish a $30 billion grant program to provide assistance to gyms, fitness facilities and studios, according to Duckworth’s media release.
“Small businesses across the country have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and gyms are no exception—they’ve lost 1.4 million jobs along with tens of billions in revenue,” Duckworth said.
“It’s critical we support the fitness industry to help bring back jobs and provide Americans with opportunities to improve their fitness during this public health crisis. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help ensure gyms and fitness centers have the resources to they need to get to the other side of this pandemic.”
The bipartisan legislation would also provide up to $20 million in grants and gyms would be allowed to use these grant funds for payroll costs, utilities, mortgage interest, worker protection expenditures and interest on debt accrued before Feb. 15, 2020.
The grants would be made by the Small Business Administration.
“Gyms and fitness facilities across the nation had to close their doors last year to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” Moran said.
“These businesses play an important role in keeping Kansans healthy, and this legislation will allow gyms and fitness facilities to apply for federal relief funds to be used for critical operating expenses to reopen their doors.”
To be eligible for the grant, businesses must be a fitness facility that provides physical exercise instruction and offers space for developing physical fitness.
A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Quigley and Brian Fitzpatrick.
Gyms saw a 58 percent decline from 2019 through the end of 2020 as efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 hit the industry.
As of December 2020, 17 percent of fitness centers had permanently closed and 1.4 million jobs were lost.
The Community Gyms Coalition, which represents 15,000 gyms including CrossFit, Orange Theory and Pure Barre, endorsed both bills, The Hill reported.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that gyms and fitness centers could expand capacity to 50 percent on May 15 and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will lift all capacity restrictions on May 21.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people on Thursday.
Although the agency did not specify gyms, it said that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting.
“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC guidance reads.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.