Exercise, training businesses prepare to close following new Dane Co. order

VERONA (WKOW) -- April Namio thought she had taken all the proper steps -- temperature checks at the door, hand sanitizer at the door, and dozens to arrows taped to the floor at Capital Gymnastics.

However, Namio said Tuesday she will have to close the academy once again followingthe new order from Public Health Madison & Dane Countythat bans all indoor mass gatherings. including group exercise classes, through at least December 16.

"Obviously, we're gonna have to shut down and it's supposed to be until December 16, which I have a feeling that's not the end of it," Namio said. "I think it will go longer."

Namio said she understood and supported the reasoning behind the new restrictions. She added she felt they needed to be much broader in order to stem theongoing rise in new COVID-19 cases and deathsin Wisconsin.

"I think there needs to be a statewide shutdown," Namio said.

Parents waiting for their kids to finish their final classes for at least the next month said they were worried about the toll the closures could have on their development since largely or entirely virtual schooling was taking away social time.

"You can take the case of my daughter who was extremely quiet, introverted," said Zack Barnett. "She's more outspoken, she's confident and those are the things I think we're gonna start losing in our children if we keep shutting down these types of facilities."

Jennifer Bryant said she has two kids at the gymnastics academy. She said, as a single parent, it had been a huge relief to take the kids to their classes after a day of virtual learning.

"I think they've just gotten used to so many disappointments at this stage," Bryant said. "They almost expect the answer to be that they're not going to be able to do things we plan and it's heartbreaking."

At Gymfinity in Fitchburg, owner J. Orkowski said he believed the order focusing on mass gatherings unfairly targeted businesses like his.

"People can go up to Walmart and they can have 30 people packed into one aisle and nobody's saying anything about that," he said. "But you're gonna limit something that's actually beneficial for kids, physically, mentally, and socially."

Public health officials clarified the order still allows for one-on-one instruction, placing it in the same category as working with a personal trainer. Gyms are also allowed to remain open as long as they continue to abide by the requirements they limit their capacity to 50 percent of its normal amount.

Orkowski said his academy offers one-on-one classes but added there's not enough time or space for that alone to cover the business's costs.

"We have a little trickle coming in but it doesn't change what we have to pay for our mortgage, what we have to pay for insurance, what we have to pay for the light and the heat," Orkowski said. "That's all constant and I don't have enough money to have that coming in."

Namio expressed the same concern -- how she would be able to keep up on bills. Both she and Orkowski said they would have no choice but to ask members to keep paying tuition, even for classes no longer allowed to take place.

"I wanna do what's right," she said. "It's just really hard to know this is what we have to do."

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