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MWR Fitness Center Reopens, Keeps Safety First

Navy Sailor is temperature checked by a Fitness Center staff member before entering.
U.S. Navy Hospitalman Maria Perez has her temperature taken as she enters the Naval Support Activity Bethesda Fitness Center; patrons have to be screened before they are allowed to use the facility as part of NSA Bethesda’s response to COVID-19. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Martinez Martinez)

07/10/20 12:56 PM

From NSA Bethesda Public Affairs

On Tuesday, July 7, after several months of being closed in response to Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic response, Naval Support Activity Bethesda’s Fitness Center reopened its doors for limited service.

Despite the falling number of cases in the areas surrounding the installation, the virus remains in the local population and still presents a risk if precautions aren’t followed. 

In response, Force Health Protection Condition Bravo (HPCON B) allows for limited opening of listed key services as long as those precautions are in place.

Gyms are on that list.

Before the Fitness Center could reopen, planning had to take place.

COVID-19 is spread primarily through respiration, so there were immediate concerns about limiting close proximity for patrons and staff.

NSA Bethesda leaders and MWR staff consulted with a public health expert and current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to set occupancy limits throughout the Fitness Center.

Occupancy limits meant the number and types of patrons had to be limited.

Active duty members were the first priority for access, and became the first criteria for eligibility to use the facility.

To maximize access, a decision was also made to limit workout sessions to an hour each in the main Fitness Center and basketball court, and to keep pool sessions to 30 minutes each. Pool sessions require reservations to be made the day before.

Other rules have been implemented, including physical distance requirements, restrictions on where bags can be placed, limiting locker room usage, and specifying where and when masks must be worn, all with an eye toward reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure for everyone.

This also includes requiring a screening and temperature check at the door.

The Fitness Center will remain open as long as the circumstance allow for it. If the HPCON changes to ALPHA, NSA Bethesda may be able to expand services. Opposite of that, a surge in the number of local infections may result in returning to HPCON CHARLIE and shutting the facility down again.

The best thing patrons can do, as well as the installation population at large, is to continue practicing physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and using face masks in close proximity to others.

To see the latest information about COVID-19 Fitness Center operations, visit: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/COVID19Bethesda

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