Hundreds of owners of fitness studios in New York City have joined together to sue mayor Bill de Blasio for his decision to bar them from reopening, even as other gyms were allowed to do so last week.
The New York Post reports that the lawsuit, filed by members of a newly formed group called the Boutique Fitness Alliance, as well as the New York Fitness Coalition, argues that they have been stripped of “their liberty and property interests without due process.”
CNN reports that gyms that followed New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus safety measures were given the green light to reopen last week — but de Blasio intervened to say that group class facilities were excluded, citing a higher risk of spreading the virus.
Leaders of the Boutique Fitness Alliance and the New York Fitness Coalition argue that there’s no evidence to support the notion that group fitness classes spread the virus more than standard gyms, and that de Blasio’s order gives an advantage to larger, corporate-owned gyms as opposed to smaller studios run by small business owners.
"It's giving them a head start bringing in members while we're still mandated to be shut," New York Fitness Coalition president and CEO Charlie Cassara told CNN.
Boutique Fitness Alliance founder Amanda Freeman told CNN that studios have been allowed to reopen in other states with no spikes in COVID-19 cases.
"We were able to open studios in some states in early July," Freeman told CNN. "In New Jersey, pilates and yoga classes were actually allowed to open before the rest of gyms. We've been open in other states and haven't had any [Covid-19] incidents."
A spokesperson for de Blasio’s office said that city public health experts identified indoor fitness classes as a high-risk activity, and that the mayor’s top priority was preventing the virus’s resurgence in New York.
"Other cities have shown us how quickly Covid-19 can return, and we're determined to heed those warnings," de Blasio’s deputy press secretary Mitch Schwartz told CNN. "For now, that means avoiding high-risk activities that involve concentrations of people, breathing heavily, in small spaces."