McKnight bill would allow gym patrons to suspend or cancel memberships during outbreaks

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A bill introduced by Jersey City Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) would allow gym patrons to suspend or cancel their memberships during an infectious disease outbreak such as COVID-19.

Photo via Club Metro USA.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“ … Consumers are tied to a relatively unbreakable contract with automatic monthly payments. As we’ve seen over the last few months, COVID-19 has forced many residents to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. Going to the gym becomes next to impossible during a public health emergency such as this one,” McKnight said in a statement.

Under bill A-5062, a health club services contract must include the following provisions regarding the health club facility’s procedures in the event it is closed due to a state of emergency or public health emergency declared by the governor in response to an outbreak of infectious disease.

· Notice to the buyer regarding the closing and reopening of the facility and the buyer’s payment obligations

· The buyer may elect to place the buyer’s health club membership on hold until the state of emergency or public health emergency is lifted by the governor, during which time any recurring payment obligation is to be waived by the health club facility

· The buyer may cancel the buyer’s health club facility membership due to health concerns

· If the buyer elects to cancel the buyer’s health club facility membership due to health concerns, the health club facility is not to charge the buyer any cancellation fee or termination penalty.

While the assemblywoman noted that some fitness centers have worked with their members to allow cancellations and modified payments, not all have.

“This bill will require all gyms to provide notification to its members of their reopening and when membership fees will resume so that the buyer is aware and may reach out to the gym to take action,” McKnight continued.

“It will also allow, during a public health crisis, a gym member to request a cancellation or suspension of charges without paying cancellation fees.”

The bill defines “outbreak” to mean any unusual occurrence of disease or any disease above background or endemic levels.

The legislation will now be referred to an Assembly committee.

McKnight announced on November 10th that she had tested positive for the coronavirus, but she has since recovered.