DeWine Orders Closures of Gyms and Polling Locations

After closing bars and dine-in restaurants, DeWine closes fitness centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19


Ainsley Snyder

“The number one thing that I am concerned about is that Lifetime is so expensive,” said senior Marina Denunzio, who works out at Lifetime Fitness. Lifetime Fitness must close by tomorrow.

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. to reflect the ruling of whether primary Election Day will happen March 17.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced today gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters and trampoline parks must close indefinitely due to the continued threat of COVID-19.

DeWine recommended today extending the state’s primary elections until June 2. A Franklin County judge, Richard Fyre, ruled against the motion saying he was reluctant to rewrite state law. The ruling can be appealed. As of late last night, by order of the Ohio Director of Public Health, all in-person voting scheduled for March 17 has been canceled. 

DeWine, who announced the most recent actions during a 2 p.m. press conference, explained that he could not make people, especially elderly or immunosuppressed individuals, go out in the midst of the pandemic with the risk of either losing their lives or losing the chance for their voices to be heard.

“We should not force them to make this choice — the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens,” DeWine said.

Senior Jordan Green voted today through early voting, which permits citizens to cast ballots in person at a polling place prior to an election. “I saw what it was like,” Green said. “There were people in there with face masks on and clutching their Clorox Wipes. I had a feeling that there’s no way that they were going to let people vote because it was 10 times worse than any restaurant or bar.”

He said he was willing to take the risk for democracy. “I don’t think it is worth going to Chipotle over — we should be self-isolating — but I consider voting important enough to go out there and be a part of,” said Green, who intended to work at the polls at Public Square on Election Day. 

Thornton Park’s Pool Coordinator Venetia Belk had plans to work tomorrow, too.

Belk said that it has been a difficult week and that the governor’s decision will make it difficult to train lifeguards for the summer. “We just have to play the cards that we’ve been dealt, and the more people who listen and actually do what they are supposed to do, the better off we will be,” Belk said. 

Senior Rachel Galin, who is part of the front of house staff at GrooveRyde, said the closures are going to hurt the Van Aken District. “It is primarily made up of small business owners and entrepreneurs, which includes GrooveRyde, so because business is going down, it puts GrooveRyde in a hard spot to come back after all this is over,” she said. 

Galin also works out at GrooveRyde about five times a week, so the closure is going to change her everyday life. “I’m going to have to figure out how to work out at home by myself,” she said. “I’m definitely trying, but it’s going to be a change and it’s going to be harder to get myself motivated.”

Senior Marina DeNunzio works at the Cleveland Skating Club. “Originally, my manager texted me yesterday and said the pool would be closed for the next three weeks, and we would still be getting our paychecks,” she said. “But now, the ban is indefinite, so I don’t know when I am going to go back to work, I don’t know if I am going to have a job in the summer, or if I am ever going to go back to the Skating Club.”

DeNunzio and her family are also members of Lifetime Fitness. “The number one thing that I am concerned about is that Lifetime is so expensive,” she said. “Can my family get a refund because we’re not going to be able to go there for the next two months?”

This announcement comes only a day after DeWine ordered all dine-in restaurants and bars to close, and not even a week after DeWine ordered the closures of Ohio schools for three weeks, beginning March 16. 

The Shakerite will continue to cover this story as it develops. Education Columnist Olivia Peebles contributed reporting to this story.

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