Gyms have the official green light to reopen Friday in Georgia. But the high-end fitness chain Equinox won't be back in business there just yet as it weighs coronavirus concerns amid the continuing health crisis.
"We have chosen not to because, while we are eager to open, we also have a responsibility to continue to embrace our high standards and not rush," Equinox Executive Chairman Harvey Spevak told CNBC Friday morning. "We are going to take a wait and see approach."
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced earlier this week that tattoo parlors, gyms and hair salons can reopen Friday — so long as they follow recommended social distancing and sanitary requirements meant to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Restaurants can begin to offer restricted dine-in meals and movie theaters can start selling tickets Monday. But many businesses, including Equinox, are not racing to unlock their doors. Equinox also owns the cycling studio SoulCycle.
Food Network star Willie Degel said Thursday he does not plan to immediately open his restaurant in Georgia. The owner of a Georgia barbershop also said she is not planning to open her doors Friday.
Health experts have expressed concerns about Georgia's plan to restart its economy as the virus continues to spread in the state. Even President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he "totally disagrees" with Kemp's phase 1 reopening plans.
"So do I agree with him? No, but I respect him and I will let him make his decision," Trump said at a White House press conference Wednesday about the Georgia governor.
Taking matters into its own hands, Equinox has created a team of medical experts to make a reopening plan, on a city-by-city basis, Spevak explained.
As its studios across the country do begin to open for business, the chief executive said visitors can expect several changes: Overall capacity will be limited; SoulCycle and other classes will be capped; visitors' temperatures will be taken; and extra cleaning measures will be implemented.
Another possibility is visitors could be asked to reserve a time to go to the gym, via an app, to make sure locations do not become overcrowded, Spevak said, similar to how people make reservations for classes.
"We believe there will be challenges between now and vaccination," he said. "We also believe when we get on the other side of it ... there will be more demand for Equinox and SoulCycle. There will be a flight to quality."
Spevak cited an internal survey that showed 74% of its current customers are planning to come back when Equinox reopens.