Juneau recently dropped its community risk level to Level 1. The change allows bars and gyms to become slightly more flexible in their operations. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau recently dropped its community risk level to Level 1. The change allows bars and gyms to become slightly more flexible in their operations. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Lagers and joggers: Restrictions ease on local bars and gyms

The Level 1 distinction offers some subtle but important maneuvering room.

While Juneau’s bars and gyms will continue to operate with strict mask policies and distancing rules, the reduction to risk Level 1 will give those businesses back some much-needed flexibility, said owners.

“Honestly, I think, they’re like, people are gonna all go crazy. We’re not going to go crazy. We won’t have to turn people away and that’s going to make a difference,” said Leeann Thomas, owner of the Triangle Club. “It makes a better work environment for the bartenders. It was really hard to do anything when we were capped at 50% capacity.”

While guidelines keep the social distancing and mask-wearing rules in effect, the easing down to Level 1 removes the 50% cap on guests. For many, that doesn’t make a huge difference, but it means that bartenders will no longer have to count heads so long as everyone’s complying with the six foot distancing rule.

[Fairbanks Man indicted for murder for hire]

“It has had no effect on us. There’s still the mask ordinance in effect. Social distancing is still in effect,” said Joe Parrish, managing partner of Pavitt Health and Fitness in a phone interview. “It allows for a larger percentage of the gym to be filled, but that’s never been an issue for us.”

The biggest step the city could take has yet to be breached, Parrish said.

“The biggest thing that’s going to make a difference for us that we’re waiting for the dam to break on is group fitness,” Parrish said. “Right now, we do have an exemption from the city to do live group fitness classes.”

Those fitness classes are a community of their own, Parrish said, which many people made steady parts of their lives before the pandemic.

“We can only have a maximum of seven people in the group fitness studio. Ninety-nine percent of our group fitness classes are a hybrid. You can come in, if there’s room, or join in virtually on zoom,” Parrish said. “Since we’ve gone virtual, we’ve got people from Pennsylvania, Michigan — you can join from anywhere. Our Rock Steady Boxing class, for people with Parkinson’s, we have 30 people from all over the country.”

Bars and gyms, which have borne a crushing burden surviving the pandemic, may finally get a small respite.

“I think the benefit is that we have a chance of making money and keeping people employed. We understand that there’s a mask mandate, and we’re going to honor it,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the Triangle was working on ways to safely accommodate pods or households within its admittedly limited floorspace. Parrish said the gym was trending positively as well.

“As far as the gym goes, I will tell you that January was our best month since we reopened,” Parrish said. “We figured this was about when things would be turning around. We were really glad to see some black ink at the end of January.”

Parrish said the gym was fortunate and that they intended to keep their mitigation measures firmly in place.

“We hang the signs all over the gym with the ordinances imploring people to please wear a mask. The staff is required to wear masks all the time, no exceptions,” Parrish said. “It feels like we’re really fortunate. Our brothers and sisters in the tourism industry, we have a lot of empathy.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

This photo shows a multi-vehicle carport following an early morning fire. (Courtesy Photo / Capital City Fire/Rescue)
Firefighters extinguish early morning carport fire

The fire marshal will investigate.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, contracting with Coastal Helicopters, works to reduce avalanche risk on Thane Road by setting off avalanches in a controlled fashion on Feb. 5, 2021.(Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Thane Road to close Saturday morning for avalanche hazard reduction

Thane Road will be closed for two hours Saturday morning to allow… Continue reading

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML)
COVID at a glance for Friday, March 5

The most recent state and local numbers.

Police Car
Police calls for Sunday, March 7, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, March 4

The most recent state and local numbers.

Police Car
Police calls for Thursday, March 5, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This Sept. 2008 photo provided by the Center for Whale Research taken near Washington state’s San Juan Islands shows scientists looking for clues about the diet of the Pacific Northwest’s endangered orcas using a pool skimmer to collect the scales or other remains of salmon the whales had eaten. A long-term study published Wednesday, March 3, 2021, reaffirmed the importance of Chinook salmon to the whales even when they cruise the outer Pacific Coast, where the fish are harder to find. (Ken Balcomb / Center for Whale Research)
Study: Chinook salmon are key to Northwest orcas all year

That includes fish that spawn in California’s Sacramento River all the way to the Taku River.

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., listens during the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on her nomination to be Interior secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Some Republican senators labeled Haaland “radical” over her calls to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and address climate change, and said that could hurt rural America and major oil and gas-producing states. The label of Haaland as a “radical” by Republican lawmakers is getting pushback from Native Americans. (Jim Watson / Pool Photo)
Senate energy panel backs Haaland for interior secretary

Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML)
COVID at a glance for Wednesday, March 3

The most recent state and local numbers.

Most Read