POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) — Poway officials unanimously approved the use of outdoor space for fitness classes and religious services, after the state banned indoor activities at gyms and placed of worship this week.
Wednesday, Poway City Council leaders voted to allow Poway park space to be reserved for fitness- or religious-related activities as part of the city's Sharing Outdoor Spaces, or "SOS," initiative.
Reserving spaces will not come at a cost, according to Poway Mayor Steve Vaus.
Effective Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all indoor activities to close at fitness centers, worship services, offices for non-critical sections, personal care services, hair salons and barber shops, and malls across the state amid rising coronavirus cases.
"In Poway we often think outside the box, this time we’re thinking outside the walls," said Mayor Vaus. "Last week we offered restaurants a lifeline through the simple act of loaning picnic tables and the outpouring of support in Poway was overwhelming. Given the current mandates, we need to look for creative and safe ways to help keep more ‘doors’ open in Poway. We’ve got the space at our parks to offer this, at no cost, with minimal impact on other park users."
The reservation of park space would be limited to Poway-based houses of worship, and fitness organizations with a current Poway business certificate and commercial insurance, the city says. The county's COVID-19 guidelines must also be adhered to, including mandates on face coverings and physical distancing.
Councilman Barry Leonard said the initiative is "a common-sense approach" in response to the rollback of openings for these businesses.
"This is beneficial to our community," Leonard added. "We're not forcing people to do anything. We're not telling people they have to come out and be uncomfortable."
Poway's decision comes the same day as a similar move by the City of Vista to allow similar businesses "to temporarily relocate their existing business operations to an adjacent outdoor area during the COVID-19 pandemic."
City News Service contributed to this report.