Local gym owner reacts to latest shut down

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s non-essential businesses will have to close their doors for two weeks under the latest public health order, starting Nov. 16. The owner of four Orangetheory Fitness studios in New Mexico, Lorraine Higgins, said the impact on the small business could be irreparable.

“We’re that stepchild that’s getting punished for somebody else’s bad behavior,” Higgins stated. “But, at the same time, as a human looking at the cases going up and the hospitals overloaded, it’s not a joke.”

The governor hopes the 14-day shutdown will help control the spread of COVID-19. The order comes during the deadliest week of the pandemic to date. New Mexico currently sits at more than 62,000 total cases and just under 1,200 covid-related deaths.

“The other critical aspect is not allowing the virus to travel with individuals,” Lujan-Grisham stated at her press conference Friday. “We don’t want it moving around. It is, quite frankly, everywhere now in the state of New Mexico, and so beginning Monday we are doing a reset, or pausing, for two weeks.”

Higgins added the business was limping along with fewer members when the studios reopened back in August but were confident they kept their locations COVID-safe. Since July 30, group fitness classes have been allowed to run at 25% capacity. That also included yoga, spin, and barre studios, among others. Traditional gyms had been able to operate at half capacity since June.

“Clearly it’s mixed emotions for us because, as a small business owner, we’ve worked so unbelievably hard to keep our studios open, disinfected, socially distanced, so we are doing all the right things,” she added. “The fitness industry takes [COVID] very, very seriously, and if you look at those [Rapid Response] watch lists, we’re not on it. I don’t care if you’re a big box gym [or] a teeny tiny Orangetheory. We’re not on it.”

Higgins said she’ll have to lay off her 42 employees ahead of Monday’s closure. Under the health order, there will also be no dining at restaurants, and other non-essential businesses like salons will close for a second time since March.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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