Working out a new system

Tighter COVID-19 restrictions mean users of rec centers must make reservations

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Visitors checking into the Eastridge Recreation Center on Nov. 19 had a flurry of questions for the front desk staff.

Can I still enter without a reservation? How many people are allowed in the pool? What do these new restrictions mean?

The community recreation centers in Highlands Ranch added a new reservation system Nov. 14 after the state moved Douglas County into level orange — limiting gyms to 25% capacity — on the dial of COVID-19 restrictions.

Since then, the state has again moved the county on the dial, this time to level red, which is one step away from purple, or a stay-at-home order similar to what the state used in the spring. Now, gyms and fitness centers are required to limit their capacities to 10%, or 10 people per room.

On the first Monday with the reservation system, guests were extremely frustrated and confused, said Dana Sigman, who checks morning guests in on weekdays.

“They didn’t understand the change,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s us (making the decision) but once I explain to them that it’s not … they’re more receptive to it.”

Sigman has heard lots of complaints and rude comments from guests who are angry about the restrictions, but most are extremely understanding about the changes, she said. 

“There’s nothing anyone can do about this,” she said “We have to get it under control, and if we don’t, we’re going to be shut down.”

Many guests at the gym said they appreciate the precautions.

“I prefer coming here, everything is so much cleaner,” said Audra Lynn, 25. “Gyms are so high risk, but they make it not.”

Connor O’Shields, 18, said he prefers the new system.

“It’s very different than what it was prior, which is a good thing,” he said. “We need to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

Rich Daniel, 40, said the biggest impact for him is that he has to plan ahead a bit more.

“It’s understandable and necessary at this time, as much as it’s inconvenient,” he said. 

Not everyone is happy with the changes. Jim Nelms, 77, said he doesn’t think the plan passed down by the state is very well thought out.

“Somebody needs to come down here and look at this (facility) first-hand,” he said. “They’re dictating from downtown.”

Nelms, who said he recently recovered from COVID-19 after fighting the disease in the hospital in October, believes the recreation facility is being underutilized unnecessarily.

“I appreciate what these guys are doing,” he said, referring to the gym staff. “The decision makers are the ones at fault.”

The reservation system applies to the cardio area, weight room, gym, tennis area and indoor pool, according to the HRCA website. Everyone visiting the facility is required to wear a mask at all times. They’re also asked to maintain 6 feet of distance from others and frequently wash their hands.

Reservations, which will be available every Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the following week, can be made at hrcaonline.org/reservations.

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