Senate committee votes on bill to override Gov. Cooper and open gyms
Gym owners from across eastern North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper, alleging that restrictions he put in place during the coronavirus pandemic keeping their businesses closed are unconstitutional. State senators are considering that issue in committee today.
my wife Sherry hit Sri Hedrick She's in the back Oh there she is There she is Okay And Francis Paterson So you back thereto folks Thank you very much for all you continue to do Teoh move things along and make our job very very easy We have looks like we've got one bill this morning on That's the house Bill 5 94 And it says homeowners association lease properties We have Senator gone to present the bill Money wasted Good morning members of Chairman before I have some short comments I would like to send forth of amendment Since you member Center for Gun I believe I do believe or members Is everyone received the amendment Senator Gun please present your amendment explaining Thank you Mr Chair Ah pretty short amendment does does two things It changes the wording to in existence from March 10 2020 or had a ballot certificate of occupancy and business license issued We have a couple out There is really just a couple that have already toe open but they had not actually officially opened the doors because of but they had already planned on opening This will allow them to do that The other one We went back and forth about somewhat Somebody wanted toe do a higher ventilation system Then there was talking about just opening the door So we just changed that two and two it Or you could do either one of those So I appreciate your support Are there any questions sensitive to gun concerning the amendment There's really when we're okay Senator Newton moves toe except the amendment is presented Is that correct sir Is there seven Okay 7% to Perry All in favor of the amendment please Signify by saying aye Pose like son Mehmet passes now the builders back before you as amended Senator Guns Thank you Mr Chair First I just want to make the comment and thank those speakers yesterday Everybody has been coming up to me from this committee and from the folks that were listening just talking about how how professionally were and how effective they were and how they told real stories And one side note not to discredit any my lobbyist friends but they don't have a lobbyist They got together as a group and said we could do this We can make this happen for us and we can do it in a way that will help the citizens and help us do it Right So I really do appreciate them doing that I am Ah I am not going to explain the bill You of course have seen it and had a chance to answer questions I would just simply say that um I appreciate your willingness to work with us and make this very very important move to help the health and well being both financially mentally and physically off these businesses and our citizens Be glad to answer any questions Thank you Senator Alexander tried this yesterday I jumped the gun but I'm certainly willing to make the motion that we approve this with the amendment and whatever it is we have to do with appropriate the locker But well accepted Senator are there further comments concerning from the committee or questions concerning that this bill Are there any comments from members of the public out there concerning this Bill would like to speak Okay sir Sir I see someone coming forward Please come forward to the microphone State your name Sergeant arms Would you please allow the man two minutes to speak Go ahead take Who are who are you And who do you represent her Yes a second here This bill One reason statements from the affidavit are State director Ahh If talk Dr Betsy Tilson Um the decision making process we're developing the public health guidance was driven but the best science and data available about Kobe 19 spread in risk Using a public health framework of social distance hygiene monitoring health protecting are most vulnerable populations and providing accurate information Highly qualified staff with advanced her doctorate degrees in their fields of expertise Love the department to recommend guidance including experts in their fields of public health environmental health epidemiology infectious disease including respiratory infections communicable disease surveillance internal medicine and pediatrics The virus that causes Copan 19 is spread manly person to person through contact and respiratory droplets These rockets are disseminated when an infectious person coughs sneezes spits talks or sings Data suggests that dissemination of infectious droplets may increase when a person increases his or her respiratory effort such as heavy deeper rapid breathing well exercising singing or cheering The virus can also spread through contact with services contaminated by rest Operate droplets of some of those touches the surface and where touches their eyes nose or mouth even if they've never come in contact with the infected person Also people could be infected without symptoms and therefore spread the disease without knowing they're sick Indoor activities General carrier A greater risk of contraction transmission of the virus and after activities for a number of reasons First it's more likely that after environments will be more conducive to maintaining social distance of at least 66 feet apart reducing population density avoiding contaminated services Second air circulates freely outdoors and which decreases the risk of transmission of the virus Studies have shown the odds for disease transmission indoors are approximately 18.7 times higher than open air environments Even when social distancing is practiced gyms can cause an increased risk for the spreading of infections The increase in respiratory effort associated with exercise and gyms and indoor exercise facilities combined with Thank you Time's up I just want to camping one last statement in the affidavit which just point out that the order does not restrict gyms or exercise businesses from setting up outdoor equipment or operating outside Thank you Thanks very much for your comments Are there further comments from the public Senator Gun would like floor with the speaker Allow me to ask a question Just for my knowledge be willing to come up here and ask a question or two Please go back I mean limited what I can answer due to the ongoing litigation But happy to take your question I think I'm on the CDC dot gov website It talks about the resuming operation for restaurants and bars It talks You go down you scroll down and talks about Step two Face to boards may open with limited capacity Restaurants may open during rooms and talks about the gymnasiums being able to open And is there knowing that South Carolina Virginia Tennessee Florida and Georgia are currently using very common sense guidelines to help these very crippled interest industries are open Is there something that is different and their data that is from North Carolina I'm a little confused Sure So I stand by my statement from the affidavit And if the committee wishes that having a couple of more paragraphs unhappy to read if you're like me No I was just asking you a direct question If you're not able to answer that This Okay Okay Thank you Thank you Senator McCain is Thank you Mr Chair and all That's for being late you know hear what Mr Gross is talking about And and I know that he's got the best of intentions But my mother used to tell me a long time ago that the road to hell is paved with good intentions And we got we got folks His mental health is it risked Their physical health is at risk in the financial health Is that rich And this is common sense and and personal responsibility At some point time we've got to let that that they take its place and make stuff happen And I commend this bill to you and I find Bill sponsors than the sponsor of the amendment because we've got folks that have been locked up in these houses Domestic violence calls to our sheriffs is a long time high and it's simply because we've got people That and we need to let him get out will lead let business get going And I can assure you my gyms that I've already talked to or prepared for this they've stretched out they've sanitized They've been everything that's necessary and appropriate for common sense and for personal responsibility I come in the bill T Thanks center McInnis the senator Clark You sure know Excuse me I like have to speak of given the opportunity to re from his prepared comments to put provide further clarification that settled the guy's questions I would like to hear that All right set it up Mr Gross Come please come forward and we give you one more minute sir Sure thing Even when social distancing is practiced gyms can increase the risk of spreading infections The increasing respiratory effort associate with exercise and gyms and indoor exercise facilities combined with the difficulty or inability to where face covering well exercising is a particular concern in a distant jimson to have a lot of equipment of which viral particles may fall This is not sweat but the risk of spread from respiratory droplets Data confirms the transmission of respiratory infections associated with fitness classes and indoor fitness facilities For example during 24 days in China and South Korea 112 persons were infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome Corona virus too associated with fitness dance classes at 12 sports facilities The recommendation from that study was that vigorous exercise in a confined space should be minimized during outbreaks Another study suggests that and official and efficient ventilation systems and jimson causes significant problem with high C 02 concentrations resulting in impaired air quality in a high risk of users to include it Increased risk of infection says his influence and tuberculosis and the database at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine list a number of super spreader events during the Copa 19 pandemic including a cluster of 65 cases resulting in simple classes from South Korea Like sir can't believe Senator Perry Thank you Mr Chairman Um you know that this has been a difficult time for a lot of people in our state and we certainly heard some firsthand stories from families and individuals who were impacted by this closure yesterday And uh you know I'm I'm not very smart but uh when I hear things like data suggest that indicates to me that we don't have any conclusions We don't have proof We have correlation not necessarily causation I understand there's a lot of unknowns about this and I think it's reasonable to take precautions and have concerns But I think we also must pay attention to observations about the real pain and damage this is causing And I think we can take appropriate steps and still be safe in local areas and be responsible In fact I noticed in the governor's executive order they actually referenced some of the safety measures that we've talked about before that can be taken by local health departments to shut something down if there's an imminent hazard We saw that executive order 1 18 and then I happened to find an order of abatement of imminent hazard issued by Secretary Cohen where she has referenced the virus in talked about its impact on it being an imminent hazard Well that's under North Carolina General Statute 1 30 which are local health departments are also authorized to use in order shut down a business so there are their safety precautions that can be put in place locally We've got people who are here crying and telling is very real stories about the financial losses they're suffering the difficulty that mental anguish the people who use their facilities and I think rather than politicize this or run to fear or say someone's wrong Look at I think we've taken a lot of steps in this thing that uh were reasonable and necessary early on And I think this is reasonable necessary and responsible to consider change now that we have new information While these people were telling us yesterday that wasn't about politics they don't care about anyone's political party in here That was about survival And they need our help I support the bill Thank you Senator Barry Thank you Senator Senator Low sir Um uh one of my concerns is when I listen to um grown men crying on yesterday And I talked to some of I talked to one that looks like me and he's paying $17,000 a month and he didn't to try to hold on What I've heard the concerns off business people and I've heard the concerns off just small business owners They're trying to do everything they can to keep their life in attack I've also heard from the HHS and I appreciate the work that you all are doing But while I appreciate the work you are doing what I would like to know is what can be done as it relates to Jim's so that they can open in a safe manner And I haven't gotten anything that I fully understand But I think there ought to be something that can be done whether they if they go down to 50% or 25% of whatever what is it that they can do And I would like to hear an answer about that And if it's nothing okay that's the answer But I like to think there is something that can be done so gyms can operate like some of these other businesses exited again We like to speak Thank you Senator I do not know if you had received a copy off fist fitness operators for responsible reopening A lot of the guidelines in this bill are taken from that A group of people without lobbyists who care about their economy and care about the people they serve and the health of our country and health of our state in their counties and their local folks Put that together and I want to make sure that you understand that the capacity is 50 It is in my field follow up follow up sir Go ahead Central Oh my I've read And my question isn't so much direct So War Senate gun as it is directed towards DHHS hearing what can be done or is this something So we have Mr Gross here He's a representative Maybe he could give some insight as to what is it they can Or if nothing can be done then that's what it is But I would like to at least here what can be done with that Yeah One more minutes Mr Gross Thank you And thank you Senator Low I think this would be appropriate conversations toe have again Because of the ongoing litigation Limited what I can say today but would look forward environment We can have those conversations to do this together in partnership Thank you Thank you Mr Gross Uh what I don't think I've got any other hands out there I'm sorry Senator Brown First of all I'm sorry I was like to debate and I'm not sure what I was been Sit exactly But I will say this I do a little radio show every week And last Friday morning I had a lady that owns a gym and Jack's will all my show And she had been in business since 1981 39 years she had been in business and from some guidance that she was getting And I think most gym owners were getting They felt like in face to that they would be included and that they could open their gyms So most of these gym owners went out and made a lot of investment and moved a lot of their equipment out of their facilities Put it in storage Teoh get ready for what they felt like was an opportunity to open And they all felt like the rug was pulled out from under that they had done everything that they thought they should do to be prepared to open And they even had gone to the point of getting their people lined up to come back to work And then all of a sudden it didn't happen And so they were really frustrated to point This lady started crying on my show the last Friday morning That's that's how frustrated she was She's been in business 39 years They're about to lose the business and she just don't know what else to do I mean that's the point that this lady was that and I dont know what we can do But I know this bill sure helps at least do something because I don't think doing nothing is an option anymore for these people Unless you want to just tell him all we're sorry The gym businesses out of business You're just you're just not gonna be up be able to operate anymore That's the point that these paper at and this lady was clear to me about that And on this is ladies been in business for 39 years in my community that's how bad it is So I just felt like I need to express what I I set through for an hour with this lady and just how serious this is for these people Senator Smith Thank you Mr Chairman Just a quick question And you may have stated this before I came in Has there been a financial assist mint to see to determine how much of a financial loss it has been for the gym industry It is a case by case but I think what we heard yesterday is some of the folks had lost up to $750,000 Good bye And also and we may be able to call it chest No if they want to And it very But it was tens of thousands And I think I think the employment base was here 5000 It was a very significant amount of legal stuff Okay Cook follow up And so we have the assurances that everything will be in compliance with the exact executive order as well As the recent bills were passed on keeping customers and clientele safe The bill is ah very specific in nature of it falls in the guidelines for CBC It falls in the guidelines off the other states every single one that is opened about their gyms And we I think the industry showed us yesterday that their professional and they and they are committed to making sure we do this right and provide this invaluable service to their their their clients and to the citizens of our state less blow up Has there been any member accommodation in terms of deuce description And if not can there be some ongoing conversations for those clientele who are locked in gym memberships but they're still being charged their monthly subscriptions And they have limited access because even with opening it up was still that 50% capacity protecting I understand your concern But as far as this bill goes this is a proactive bill that is focusing strictly on getting them back into the gym and a safe limited way Eso I really have no other additional comment relative to any rebates or anything like that Senator Harrington Thank you Mr Chair Um I would just Is there anyone here from the fitness industry that could speak to some of these concerns Dispersants from the fitness industry work out You need todo you identify yourself Uh chest We doubt represent planet fitness Any questions That question Did you not know that the question was asked if there's any way to know how much the financial losses have been throughout the industry Do you have any I can only speak to Planet Fitness on and we're losing $125,000 per day Planet fitness is is ah corporate big box Jim But the individual Jim's air owned as a franchise model similar toe fast food restaurants or something like that so individual These are individuals in North Carolina This isn't a a big corporation we're talking about But that's just one gym in North Carolina instead of drinking Okay Thank you Mr Mayor I appreciate your input sir I What I'm sorry Stay there Sir to Perry Apologize Thank you Mr Chairman I remember something being said yesterday about enhanced ventilation or something And I think Mr Gross spoke about concerns regarding that today Wasn't there some kind of requirement or some gyms have increased airflow Or am I confusing that with another That's correct by its definition of Jim must have more significant airflow and ventilation systems in a standard room So for example ah standard planet fitness has a ventilation system three times better than the ventilation system in this room So if we're using data that I keep hearing about this data that's not exactly confirmed or decided in other states we're taking this data and seeing other things Well if you breathe twice as hard but your ventilation is three times better or is that equal Eso You know there's a lot of guessing here but the general principle was the gym has three times a better ventilation than a restaurant or tattoo portal or anything else that's happened right now Do that Said it's better to Perry Is that the satisfying sir Thank you Mr Chairman Yes Okay I believe the next person have a Senator Newton Thank you Mr Chairman I just wanted to make a quick comment that Central Oh is asking the right question What can we do The governor has chosen to shut this industry down And the old only guidance I heard today about what they can do is go outdoors And you know if you're in a shopping center you know I'm gonna be able to go outdoors the people I'm not gonna reiterate what is at stake here Everybody in this room and listening to this should know what's at stake People's livelihood people's mental health people's physical health And we have got to move this state forward But we got to do it safely So this bill is simply an attempt to save what we can do And if we don't have it right amend the Bill DHHS come forward and tell us what we're missing here But we're doing our dead level best to comply with CDC guidelines any other important health guidelines to keep the public safe If we've missed it please tell us why and how we missed it We'd be happy to amend the bill I commend this bill to you It's a great effort It needs to be done And we it needs to be done Thank you And I come in the bill to you ask you to vote for it Blake's Senator McInnis is next like you very much Mr Chairman Ladies General Committee About the most important thing we need to look at in this bill This is not a political bill This bill has nothing to do with partisan politics We need doing when you think about partisan politics because this bill has nothing to do with partisan politics This bill has to do with the livelihood at the financial health and life I have One of my jail owners was cited by the local police department this past week because he opened up in violation But now he opened up in a safe way He opened up doing everything he was supposed to do and he is fighting for his financial life He's fighting for his for natural life right now today and that's just one Jim we're talking about hundreds thousands of Jim thousands of people that are using this and I go back again and reiterate to this committee we're talking about people's physical health But as important is their mental health Because you sit there and look at the full walls for back 30 45 days I mean you get the thank you crazy thing So I told me that every day if you wanted to have a good study on social distancing you need to talk to a couple of been might at least seven years But all the short of it the date Today is the day we need to pass this bill like Are there further comments or questions from the committee Okay I'm sorry Senator Brown famous chairman on our toe try to respond to Senator Smith's question earlier about dues and fees and now what This lay We talked about that on this on my show I had the other day and she said that you get to know these clients on a personal basis and she said for her and I would bet most of these firms she said she told them that they had if they want to drop the membership they could And she said and a lot of people did so She lost that business she said but she was amazed at how many people said No you know we appreciate what you do We will continue to support you until you get through this And uh and she said she offered delayed payments She offered to cut the rate She offered a lot of different scenarios for her customers and she said her customers all came to her and would would thoughts And she worked with every one of them because again it becomes almost a family in the centres because the same people show up and work out to get to know each other over time and course the staff gets to know these people because they're working with But most of these facilities have done what you ask I think about and have already taken care of that because they understand that they want that customer back when things do get back where they should be So the good ones Anyway we're doing that Senator Mark Uh thank you Problem I had a question If the planet fitness representative can speak to this and if not understand on and I'm actually a small business owner so I want to be clear and understand what you're going through I've been significantly impacted personally by Kobe 19 So I don't want to start with that Yesterday one of your colleagues in the industry was here from O to fitness and when I was an employee with the time of Chapel Hill we had a benefit where we actually had a reduced gym membership as a result of being an employee But I did have a question about tracing on and also to thank all of you for the guidance Definitely echoed the sentiments of some of my colleagues and saying that um we do need to be clear on what opening safely looks like and I don't think we should lose that And I think the fitness operators were responsible reopening I have reviewed the document but they want to ask you about tracing so other states that have re opened How have those tracing attempts gone Because I think when we look at reopening it's really going to be about tracing right I mean we will have facilities that will open it will have to shut down as a result of outbreaks So how have those tracing efforts go on in other states But I can't speak toe really the Tracy Anderson of the States But I can I can tell you that when you come into our facility in North Carolina there is a connection We know you're there There's a key card which is all touchless by the way But what will know who is their when they're their how long they're there and when they leave So the train soas faras tracing this is probably the most ideal situation possibly not possible for any of these entities Restaurants can't do this Most most places that are currently open can't do this But we know every single person who comes in how long do there and when they leave And if I could respond to Senator Smith to while I'm here Smith we're currently not charging anybody Any membership is Oh good Senator Mark Quick follow up Um a piece of background that I have My mother was actually a public health nurse for the vast majority of her career and the covert that lines We've worked all of churches We actually just shut water fountains off So I didn't want to add that I did see in the guidelines that waterfowling usage was prohibited But I am concerned about them being used at all I think since we know respiratory droplets or how this has spread even though it says it's for water bottle you know refilling and I know that's difficult to do at a gym But I think that could be a hot spot Those water fountains there just wanted like that too Thank you Further comment that Senator Alexander I just have one other Communist I've heard all the discussion here today and I just appreciate again the efforts by center gun and those in the industry who are here trying to basically a fight for their life It just to meet the bigger picture is to me it's inconceivable that in the year 2020 that we're having to basically argue to try to keep an entire industry afloat because of the actions in the hands of our own government And I think that uh yeah it's unbelievable to me that we should have to even do this but we here we are and I'm and I'm certainly glad that we're we're undertaking this But the the gems and the other businesses have indicated that they were willing to do all of these things and to keep our people safe and protect the health of their clients The local health department is always available to somebody mentioned earlier that they could certainly step in if there's any health issues that they see But I think that all in all we need this This is something that we have to do and we need to do it right away And I I just reiterate my concern about that I think any other comments from the committee I believe with Senator Alexander moved for faithful sometime ago sir No Don't think I've gotta work We knew it Hold on I tell you what You get ready to say OK OK Senator hurt Senator Alexander moved favorable to the PCs as a minute road into a new PCs Unfavorable to the original with the referral the rules that I had that sir That's exactly what exactly is their second for that Okay Senator Harrington all those in favour Please signify by saying Aye pose like sign Bill passes unanimously Thank you very much And I believe it's any other business coming for the committee Thank you very much Meeting is adjourned No way