A gym and church were the two Burbank establishments that recently received citations for failing to follow a health order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, Los Angeles County officials said.
EnrichFit Gym has received four citations for continuing to allow patrons to exercise indoors, according to the county’s Department of Public Health. Fines issued to the gym totaled $2,500 as of this week. The gym was ordered closed on Aug. 6 for an initial citation, the department said in an email, but has continued to operate indoors.
Currently, according to state and county requirements, gyms are allowed to hold activities outdoors only. The gym did not respond to multiple requests for comment, though the front door of the business bears a sign saying it “functions in the private domain only” and is “members only and not open to the public.”
People could be seen walking in and out of the gym, and loud music could be heard playing inside.
Gyms and churches have a major presence on the county’s list of issued citations, recently made available on its coronavirus tracking website. CityLight LA, a Burbank church, was cited on Sept. 20 for holding indoor services, according to the county health department.
Nick Reed, lead pastor of the church, said in a phone interview that he plans to continue hosting indoor gatherings, which he described as training sessions for people needing spiritual and emotional support. But he emphasized that health precautions are in place and that he wants to work with the health department on a compromise.
“We’re wanting to support and honor leadership as much as possible, but we also know there’s got to be some aspect of a middle ground here,” he explained.
Like gyms, churches are not allowed to hold indoor services under current health guidelines, and Reed said the county hasn’t budged on those rules. Other places mandated to operate outdoors to slow the spread of the coronavirus include an array of entities from schools to movie theaters.
But Reed also said his church doesn’t have enough outdoor space for his approximately 350 members. CityLight LA has been holding virtual worship services since the initial health orders, he added, even remaining closed during a brief stint earlier this year when churches could be open.
He also believes the church provides necessary support for people experiencing mental and spiritual distress during the pandemic, arguing that the community of a congregation can’t be replicated with virtual services.
“[We] just see a double standard, because when church is not on the essential category, as a church we were willing to accept that,” he said. “But … we’ve got to realize church is not in the same category as movie theaters.”
As of Friday morning, there were a reported 1,604 cases of the coronavirus in Burbank, with 58 deaths. The seven-day average for new cases was at 12 a day, an increase from 8.3 a day a month prior. However, L.A. County has reported decreasing deaths due to COVID-19 and a lower test positivity rate in recent weeks, with hospitalizations showing signs of stabilization.