Gyms in New York can reopen starting Aug. 24

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said gyms can begin reopening as soon as Aug. 24 and has tasked localities with inspecting fitness centers to make sure they comply with new health restrictions, including a 33 percent capacity limit and face masks.

“Localities can also decide whether the gym can have classes inside it or not,” Cuomo said during a coronavirus task force briefing Monday in New York City. “The local elected will make the decision in the jurisdiction, and the local health departments must inspect before or within two weeks” of the fitness centers reopening.

Just last week, the operators of fitness centers, wedding venues and theaters called on Cuomo to work with business owners and release guidance so they could reopen. The following day, Cuomo announced guidance for reopening gyms would be released.

Many gym owners have been preparing to reopen for months, and had already implemented safety plans that included spreading out equipment, installing sanitizing stations and controlling the number of people allowed in the facilities at once.

The guidance from Cuomo’s adminstration includes ensuring proper ventilation is in place at fitness centers and requiring everyone to wear face masks. Specifically, gyms will be expected to install MERV-13 filters, Cuomo’s secretary Melissa DeRosa said.

“There has to be a sign-in form so you know exactly who is coming in at all times,” DeRosa said. “We are recommending they do screening at the door. If, for any reason, that ends up being a problem, we’re going to roll back.”

Gyms, malls and movie theaters were not allowed to reopen with other businesses in the final reopening phase until the state Health Department determined if whether there are filters available that would remove coronavirus particulates from the air.

In July, Cuomo announced malls in regions that have reached phase four that install enhanced filters to remove COVID-19 particulates from the air could reopen. Cuomo has not provided a timetable for movie theaters to restart business.

While some may consider movie theaters essential, Cuomo said they determined gyms were “more essential” to New Yorkers, and thus reopening more necessary. He emphasized that movie theaters remain a high risk for spreading COVID-19 due to it being a congregate setting with one ventilation system that people would be in for an extended period of time.

Many gym owners said they have already reconfigured their gym equipment and developed plans to limit occupancy and install ample cleaning stations.

Bowling alleys were given the green light to reopen today with 50 percent capacity and occupants wearing face masks. Every other lane must be closed and each group must remain at their own lane even for food service.

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