After months of lockdowns, New York gyms and fitness centers will be permitted to reopen beginning next week, according to an announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Gyms in the state will be allowed to reopen — while adhering to strict health and safety guidelines — beginning on Aug. 24. An announcement by the governor’s office said that all gyms will be allowed to reopen on Sept. 2 — with the caveat that local elected officials will have the ability to delay reopening of indoor fitness classes should they see fit. The lag time between the dates is to allow time for local health department inspections.
Guidance for gyms and fitness centers under the state’s plan include:
- Capacity: 33% occupancy limit.
- Access: Sign-in with contact information and health screening required.
- PPE: Appropriate face coverings required at all times.
- Distancing: 6 feet of separation at all times.
- Hygiene/Cleaning: Cleaning and disinfection supplies made available to customers; shared equipment cleaned after every use; staff must also be available to clean and disinfect equipment in between uses; rental equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between customer use.
- Classes: By appointment/reservation only; maximum class capacity capped at number of people that can adhere to the 6-feet social distancing rules, but in no case more than 33% of the typical class size (i.e., leave stations, cycles, etc. vacant); classes should be scheduled to allow additional time for cleaning and disinfection in between each session.
- Amenities: Water bottle refill stations permitted, but not shared water fountains; communal showers are closed, but individual showers/stalls can remain open so long as they are cleaned in between use.
- Air Handling Systems: Gyms should operate at MERV-13 or greater; if they are unable to operate at that level, they must have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional document their inability to do so and adopt additional ventilation and mitigation protocols from American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Inspection: Local health departments shall inspect before or within two weeks of the gym/fitness center opening to ensure compliance.
Local officials will be empowered to make decisions governing fitness centers and gyms. In New York City, the mayor will be responsible for determining reopenings, while outside of the city, the highest ranking county executive will have that authority.
"As New York maintains daily positive test rates below 1 percent, the State has determined that local elected officials can allow gyms and fitness centers to reopen at 33 percent capacity while following rigorous safety protocols, including wearing masks at all times," Cuomo said. "While it's encouraging that we've reached the point where it's acceptable for them to begin reopening in our communities, this is not the time to forget that the pandemic is ongoing. New Yorkers must closely adhere to the guidelines and local health departments are required to strictly enforce them to help ensure gyms and fitness centers reopen safely and protect the public health."