Some gyms in Tulare County defying COVID orders

A Visalia Fit Republic manager looks on from inside the gym. Catherine Doe/Valley Voice

As Tulare County officials struggle to improve COVID infection numbers and move the area out of the Purple Tier so life can return to normal here, several gyms appear to be operating in open violation of state and county orders.

As late as Thursday, November 5, Fit Republic on Noble Avenue in Visalia was allowing indoor workouts, and city officials appear to be turning a blind eye. According to reports from several sources, more than a dozen gyms around the county are operating in violation of health orders.

Authorities Aware

Tulare County health officials are aware of the problem and working to solve it.

“We have a business liaison team that is fielding complaints for noncompliance,” said Tulare County Health and Human Services (TCHHS) spokeswoman Carrie Monteiro.

The TCHHS has received numerous complaints about businesses–including restaurants, gyms, massage parlors and salons–defying orders intended to prevent overwhelming local healthcare facilities and reduce the county’s infection rate. At present, Tulare County remains in the Purple Tier, indicating widespread coronavirus transmission. To move to the Red Tier, the infection rate must drop to less than seven new cases per day and positive tests have to drop below 8%.

As of Wednesday, November 4, Tulare County reports a 4.9% positivity rate, well below the 8% requirement; however, the county is still recording 10 new cases a day.

Open in Defiance

Those who work in the fitness industry are frustrated by the refusal of some fitness centers and instructors to comply with orders from health officials, and they report many gyms of all sizes remain open. A list of those not in compliance is in circulation, and some are even advertising on social media. When asked why Visalia’s Fit Republic remains open despite the closure order, the manager there declined to comment beyond confirming the location was open.

“I don’t think I’m able to say anything further than that,” the manager, who identified himself as Anthony, said before abruptly hanging up.

Fit Republic operates locations in Visalia, Tulare and Dinuba, all of which have been reported as open for business.

Those who wish to report businesses open in defiance of health orders should email the county at [email protected] The same address can also be used by business operators looking for guidance to request information on reopening safely.

Enforcing the Law

When TCHHS is alerted to a violation of the closure order, the first step is a visit from county officials, the liaison team, which asks the businesses to voluntarily comply.

“The team does make contact,” Monteiro said. “We are finding the majority we contact are coming into compliance.”

When a business refuses to follow orders, the county will report them to state and local authorities for harsher compliance methods.

“We field it to the state and the local jurisdiction for enforcement,” Monteiro said. “We’re finding a lot of these gyms are within cities.”

Ongoing Violations

While most businesses are willing to take the economic hit to prevent the spread of this fatal disease, allowing everyone to return to life as normal, some have refused. In those cases, the enforcement is left to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and, when businesses are located in one of the county’s cities, to local code enforcement.

“There are some gyms the city of Visalia is trying to address,” Monteiro said.

Early in the pandemic, Jason Salazar, Visalia’s police chief, said during a city council meeting his department would not close businesses in violation of health orders. It is not clear if that remains policy. At the same meeting, council members also briefly considered a resolution announcing the city’s intent not to enforce state health orders, however, at the advice of the city attorney, they did not proceed.

The Visalia Police Department did not respond to requests for information on its current role in enforcing the orders or its policy. The city’s Code Enforcement and Neighborhood Preservation Office was also unresponsive.

For more information about the county’s COVID numbers and how to combat the disease, visit https://covid19.tularecounty.ca.gov/.

22 thoughts on “Some gyms in Tulare County defying COVID orders

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  1. I think that Will’s Fitness on the corner of Morton and Prospect in Porterville is open for indoor workouts.
    Here’s the sad part: Will’s Fitness is only 2 doors down from Supervisor Townsend’s business in that little strip mall. So Superspreader Supervisor Townsend wants to “supervise” Tulare County but he can’t even shut down a health violation 2 doors down from himself.

  2. Maybe we should have to prove that these businesses are, in fact, contributing to Covid. Too bad we are so willing to throw all personal rights away without just cause.

    Clearly, we are solving nothing if we believe the numbers. But fear not. Dictatorship is just beginning!

  3. Here’s yet another example of Police Chief Salazar’s corruption. Is his refusal to have his force enforce covid regulations any less dangerous to the people than if they kneeled on our necks?

    BTW, Valley Voice should look into if some officers are “under the nosers” when interacting with each other and with the public. Just saying.

  4. People need to worry about themselves. If a business wants to take the risk and stay open, so be it. You aren’t paying their bills. People have a choice if they choose to go or not.

    • That’s idiotic, the same thing could be said about DUIs – worry about yourself – if someone wants to risk it just let them? I guess we can just settle it in court afterwards?

      • I guess we should close all stores and places of business then? Gyms and indoor restaurants aren’t the reason Covid is spreading. Comparing Covid to a DUI is really reaching…

      • Your comparison seems quite reasonable to me, except that the selfish irresponsibility of DUI kills about 10,000 per year and the selfish irresponsibility of spreading droplets uncontrolled has contributed to 240,000 deaths so far this year.
        Probably the worst people are that small subset of Christians who say that Jesus made the atoning sacrifice for their sins but they can’t be bothered to wear masks or worship in a distanced way.

  5. All these naysayers are causing businesses not being opened up. As long as they deny, defy, and negate what is going on around them they will continue to promote and justify people acting like this pandemic is a nothing burger. Stupid, selfish, and dangerous on their part. I don’t care if you don’t care about the health and welfare of others but I do care when you endanger the health and welfare of others. Wear a damn mask when you go outside and practice social distancing in public as well as no family gatherings with others who don’t actually live inside your home. Quit adding fuel to the fire. We need to get these numbers down. Typical Tulare County mentality. Get your head out of your a$$.

    • Believer in Science – As a scientist, who holds himself to the highest level of integrity and follows a code of ethics, I assume you are aware of your Governor and your senators “stupid, selfish, and dangerous behavior?” You do realize they have inacted policies and procedures which they are ignoring, while they expect us, the general public, to conform to. Your hypcrit Governor was just caught at a friend’s party, and your senator is in the process of hosting a political party? Do these not qualify as social super spreader gatherings? Maybe you would be better served holding your elected rich elitist officials to the your steadfast scientific standards, rather than having your attention on poor businesses trying to stay afloat in this pandemic, while trying to avoid bankruptcy.

      • “Small businesses like restaurants should be open to serve dinner parties like the Governor attended” is a coherent thought.

        “Small businesses like restaurants should be closed to prevent the spread of a disease at dinner parties like the Governor attended” is a different coherent thought.

        But your idea that the Governor is horrible for patronizing a business that should be open to serve customers is Devin Nunes-level stupid.

        • Consider the case of a person who holds a view with probability 1. Then coherence says that it is no use having a debate with them because nothing will change their mind. So please proceed Walter. Do not wean of your mask, society is reliant on your Gavinism yoke and compliance. Yet, here we all are in the purple again. When something does not work for 10 months, it truly seem logical to just continue with the coherent credo of same because the California governor says so, oh – and do not forget about the all the science to support his position. I will continue to be the fool who supported a 10 term winning Congressman, while you do whatever the hell you do. Look foward to seeing you at Walmart, please smile under that mask and God Speed.

  6. In the print version of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday, the obituaries section of the newspaper took up 10 pages.
    Meanwhile, American Idiots are running around saying the virus and the dead people are a hoax and that Trump won the election.
    Sad.

  7. Good for them!! Those that live in fear, stay home – it’s your right. If it’s okay for Walmart and Costco to stay open, then it’s okay for mom and pops to stay open too – including gyms. Well done!

  8. Here’s a suggestion; don’t feel safe going to the gym? Don’t go! Why tattle on these businesses?
    And screw you Valley Voice for providing a way for these “nosey neighbors” to tattle on others!
    *unsubscribed

    • I need the gym so then staying open is helping my health. They do require masks and a health app you must take every time you go in. The keep everyone 6 feet apart. So I think regardless they are doing everything by the book. You need to realize a lot of people need the gym to stay healthy and active. Not a lot of us feel safe going out side to workout and running on our streets. I love fit republic. They are the best.

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