Let’s get physical: Regs tight, gyms set to reopen

Gear up: Gyms and fitness centers will begin reopening statewide Aug. 24.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Your gym is reopening.

“Forward” march: Albany has a plan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the good news Monday, announcing a multifaceted plan that sees statewide gyms and fitness centers gearing back up Aug. 24 – with several caveats, first and foremost the ability of local health departments to delay reopenings at their discretion.

Only facilities meeting “rigorous health and safety standards” can reopen, according to the governor’s office, and “local elected officials may choose to delay the reopening” while individual locations come up to snuff on mandates related to social-distancing, disinfecting and other anti-coronavirus measures.

The goal is to for all statewide gyms and fitness centers to be back in business by Sept. 2, though local health departments can choose to extend the moratorium on indoor fitness classes beyond that date, according to Cuomo’s office.

As he has throughout the recovery, the governor beat the drums of responsibility in Monday’s announcement, noting that “local health departments are required to strictly enforce” New York Forward COVID-19 regulations.

Among the fitness center-specific directives: a 33 percent occupancy limit, appropriate face coverings for staff and customers at all times, mandatory sign-ins with health screening, strict social-distancing limitations – particularly important regarding classes and other group sessions – and a full circuit of hygiene/cleaning regs for staff and customers.

Facilities are also required to meet strict air-circulation standards (MERV-13 or greater, for those keeping score) and should expect local health department compliance inspections.

The rules are stringent, but this is a particularly steep step on the treadmill of COVID-19 recovery, according to Cuomo.

“New Yorkers must closely adhere to the guidelines … to help ensure gyms and fitness centers reopen safely and protect the public health,” the governor added.