As of April 24, Georgia climbing gyms have been given permission to reopen at their own discretion, but with social distancing and sanitation protocol to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. Georgia governor Brian Kemp is the first governor to take steps to reopen certain businesses, including barber shops, massage therapists, bowling alleys, and fitness centers—climbing gyms included.
Treadstone Columbus Climbing Gym in Columbus, GA reopened their doors on April 24. “We are among the first—if not THE first—of climbing gyms in the country or the world to reopen after the COVID crisis began,” Treadstone wrote in a Facebook post. “We have been closed for over a month, and we closed before it was mandatory to do so. So we have not taken any of this lightly. We are glad that we live in a state where the governor has shown some leadership on this. I have been closed too long, and was happy to reopen as soon as possible.”
According to Treadstone’s website, as a precaution to COVID-19, they will be limiting the number of people in the gym at a time, practicing social distancing, and requiring patrons to wash/sanitize hands and shoes before climbing or using workout equipment.
Treadstone shared a video of the reopened gym on their Facebook page.
However, not all Georgia climbing gyms are jumping at the opportunity to reopen. Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center, with locations in Atlanta and Kennesaw, sent out an email to its members announcing that they will remain closed given the current situation.
“While we are anxious to reopen to see all of you, at this moment we do not feel it is in the best interest of our staff, members, and guests,” the announcement read. “Health and safety will continue to be our top priority, and with that in mind, at this time we will continue to remain temporarily closed.”
Stone Summit has not posted a reopen date, but assured its constituents that they will monitor the situation closely and provide updates when new information is available. “We know these are challenging times and look forward to welcoming you back into the gym,” they wrote.
Governor Kemp’s announcement to open Georgia's businesses came shortly after President Trump unveiled a three-phase plan to gradually reopen the economy. The first phase of the plan would allow restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, and gyms—among other businesses—to reopen under certain conditions. Ultimately these decisions would be left to the discretion of state and local governments.
In an April 22 press conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was asked what he would tell Governor Kemp about his decision.
"If I were advising the governor, I would tell him that he should be careful, and I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go because there is a danger of a rebound," Fauci said. "And I know there's the desire to move ahead quickly—that's natural, human nature—but going ahead and leapfrogging into phases where you should not be, I would advise him, as a health official and as a physician, not to do that."
A recent pre-print study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, from MIT researchers Raj Dandekar and George Barbastathis concluded that "relaxing or reversing quarantine measures right now will lead to an exponential explosion in the infected case count, thus nullifying the role played by all measures implemented in the US since mid March 2020."
It is unforeseen exactly when and how other states will begin allowing businesses to reopen. For now, the vast majority of climbing gyms and other non-essential facilities across the country will remain closed in an effort to protect the health and wellness of the American people.
|The Climbing Contributors' Fund|
During April, 25-percent of proceeds from new Climbing Summit memberships will go toward supporting climbing freelancers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more and join here.