PORTLAND, Maine — Gyms and fitness centers in three Maine counties will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday, which is great news for owners and clients eager to get back to working out. But the reopening, which had been delayed before, comes with a tough set of restrictions on capacity and social distancing.
Cyclebar, in Portland's Bayside, had not even been open six months when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down. Instead of idling its bikes, it rented them out so clients could stream spin classes at home.
When it was allowed, owners Julie Marchese and her daughter Paige Furgeson brought the bikes outside for classes. All the while they were working to implement not just the safety protocols set by the state, but others they felt would make their clientele even safer.
With little money coming in, they put a lot of it out installing touchless systems and an air purification system that costs thousands to install.
There are several types of these systems but Marchses and Furgeson settled on the Reme Halo from RGF Environmental Group. Furgeson says it "essentially kills 99 percent of air pollutants, bacteria, viruses, mold, as well as sanitizes all surfaces that come in contact with that air."
Marchese adds, "It uses ions and infrared... goes right into your HVAC. Even if people are breathing heavy it's been proven in a sneeze zone that it kills 99 percent of the bacteria that floats in the air after that season sneeze happens."
RGF says on its website that it is beginning tests to see with its hydro-peroxide output system is effective at killing COVID-19, but they have reason to believe it does as it kills other coronaviruses.
If those tests prove it is indeed effective, Marchese says a lot of places should consider installing these systems. To buy and install one of these devices costs about $1100. Each one covers 800-1200 square feet.
Cyclebar used to have 34 bikes in it's Bayside Spin studio, but state regulations say the bikes must be 14 feet apart, which means they will have to cut the number of bikes per class to 8-10.
"That's not enough to be sustainable," Marchese says.
Marchese is planning to plead her case before the state, and that the air purification system will be a game-changer for her business, so she is not left just spinning her wheels.
At the start of the pandemic, the FDA issued guidance to expand the availability of air purification systems as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19 but has never made installation a requirement. The Maine CDC follows FDA guidance in issuing its own.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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