BG BULLETIN – Gov. Cuomo Allows Gyms & Fitness Centers to Reopen Subject to Safety Protocols

By David Blessington, BG Summer Associate

On August 17th, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that gyms and fitness centers in New York State can begin to reopen starting August 24th, subject to rigorous health and safety standards, as set forth below:

  • 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 permitted to delay gym openings until September 2nd to allow additional time for required health department inspections and have the option to delay the resumption of indoor group fitness and aquatics classes until a later, but yet to be determined, date.

Unfortunately for New York City residents, the Mayor’s Office has already pushed back on the timeline set forth by Governor Cuomo, asserting that City inspectors must prioritize safety inspections of schools and childcare facilities before turning their attention to fitness centers.