What to Know
- New York City gyms will be allowed to reopen on Sept. 2 following state-mandated inspections, though no indoor group classes will be permitted
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo OK'd the return of gyms statewide as early as Monday, but the city is focused first on conducting school inspections; then it'll tackle gyms, where a host of other COVID precautions must be in place
- Fitness centers have yet to reopen in New Jersey, though Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday he was trying to figure out a way to safely reopen those along with indoor dining, which he postponed indefinitely in late June
New York City gyms will open up for indoor workouts on Sept. 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio's office told WNYC Friday -- but indoor group classes and pools will stay closed. There also is still no timeline for the return of indoor dining, City Hall said.
The announcement comes a few days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cleared the way for gyms to open across New York state as early as Monday -- a boon for fitness aficionados who have had their workout routines disrupted for the last five months. Local governments must inspect each gym before or within two weeks of reopening to ensure compliance with various COVID-19 protocol, Cuomo said.
New York City had said shortly after Cuomo's announcement that it likely wouldn't be able to reopen its gyms by Monday. Officials are prioritizing school inspections right now, working to make them ready to safely accommodate students and staff for in-person learning -- at least part of the week -- by Sept. 10. Gym inspections must be done by Cuomo's deadline, which would be Sept. 16 for a Sept. 2 start. The announcement came just days after City Hall said there weren't enough inspectors to open gyms.
A number of other regions and counties in New York, including Rockland County, do plan to have gyms open Monday, the first day they're allowed to return. Gyms had long been one of the few businesses still shelved given national concerns they may pose an enhanced risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Strict COVID safety standards apply for gym reopenings statewide. Capacity will be capped at 33 percent to start, though if that proves problematic, the state says it will dial that number back. Health requirements include mandatory masks at all times, proper air ventilation, sign-in forms, screening at the door (like temperature checks) and social distancing. Cuomo left indoor classes' return to local officials, and will be held outdoors or online in NYC still.
Other requirements for New York gyms include:
- Customers must sign in with contact information and health screening
- Six feet of social distancing and face coverings maintained at all times
- Cleaning and sanitizing supplies provided to customers, and shared equipment cleaned between each use.
- Classes held by appointment only, and areas where classes are held must be cleaned between sessions
- No shared water fountains allowed, but water bottle refill stations will be permitted
- Communal showers are to remain closed, but individual showers/stalls can stay in use if they are cleaned in between use
Cameron Duff, who works for 24-hour fitness, said his facilities throughout the state are adopting strict social distancing measures, and a thorough scheduling system.
"We have actually introduced reservations for all of our members for 90 minutes. Every hour and a half we close for cleaning," Duff said.
As for indoor dining, Cuomo withheld it from New York City's entry into Phase III and then Phase IV while allowing it to continue in the rest of the state. The city has been in his final reopening phase for some time now, but as recently as this week, Cuomo still had no timeline for the return of indoor dining in the city.
"Based on what we've seen around the world, we do not have a plan for indoor dining in the near term," de Blasio said.
The governor said restaurants in New York City are not dealing with the same environment as restaurants in other parts of the state due to a number of factors -- including a lack of compliance in the five boroughs with COVID protocol.
"They’re different demographically, they’re different in population, they’re different by density, they’re different by crowding factor. Westchester County never had the problem that New York City had. Nassau never had the problem that New York CIty had. They’re two totally different environments," Cuomo said. "And are we more careful in New York City because of those factors? Of course we are. It would be negligent not to be."
Restaurant owners earlier this week said they may go to court if the mayor and governor don't soften their stance.
Indoor dining and gyms both remain closed in New Jersey, though Gov. Phil Murphy said last week he was trying to figure out a way to safely resume both.