Goshen, N.Y. – On Monday, August 17th, Governor Cuomo stated that effective August 24th, but no later than September 2nd, gyms can re-open across the State under the below circumstances. Gyms include standalones, hotel gyms, residential gyms, office gyms and fitness centers, gyms at higher education institutions, yoga/Pilates/barre studios, boxing/kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, CrossFit or other plyometric boxes, and other group fitness classes.
The Governor’s guidance on Gyms can be found at: https://forward.ny.gov/phase-four-industries (scroll down to “Gyms and Fitness Centers”).
County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus has asked the County Health Department to undertake inspections to enable gyms to re-open in compliance with the Governor’s requirements. He is asking all gyms to email the following information to the Orange County Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org.
a. Legal name, address and phone number of gym.
b. Town, City, or Village where gym is located. This will enable inspections to be better coordinated.
c. Owner(s) of gym.
d. Name of responsible person at gym. This is the person or persons who will be responsible for ensuring ongoing compliance with the Governor’s requirements.
e. Plan to comply with the Governor’s requirements.
f. List of any health-related, pandemic response improvements the gym has made in 2020.
g. Posted occupancy limit of gyms (prior to the reduction to 33%).
h. State whether your gym offers indoor classes. Under Governor Cuomo’s rule, Counties must approve the offering of indoor classes.
i. Hours of operation when the gyms are available for inspection (must be between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, weekends optional) through 9/7.
Gyms must also file with the State the “Read and Affirm Detailed Guidelines” available at the above link (https://forward.ny.gov/phase-four-industries (scroll down to “Gyms and Fitness Centers”).
Neuhaus is also urging the Orange County IDA to make grants of up to $10,000 to small gyms (those employing less than 50 people) to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Under a State law passed earlier this year, IDAs per permitted to make such grants. Gyms are seen as places where the virus can easily pass through the air. Therefore, making safety improvements and wearing masks always is seen as something that can significantly mitigate the chance of COVID-19 spread.
“I am someone who believes in physical fitness,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “Gyms can and do play an important role in keeping people healthy. We are going to apply the Governor’s standards, allow gyms to re-open, and reach out to gyms prior to undertake the inspections the Governor wants done. I know there are a lot of small gyms who have been waiting for this day and I have asked the Health Department to implement a timely inspection process.”
Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman added: “Gyms can help us expedite their re-opening by emailing us the information requested in points a-I above. County staff will continue to work, in collaboration with municipal building and code inspectors, to expediently conduct the inspections. Gyms seeking re-opening approval are directed to send the requested information by email to email@example.com immediately.”
Orange County will then arrange inspections of the facilities. Gyms requesting inspection should plan on being open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday in order to facilitate inspection. If your facility is open and capable of being inspected on weekends, please supply that information. County inspectors will have County identification on them, may take photographs of the facility, and will ultimately leave gyms which pass inspection with a certificate of inspection. Key components of the Governor’s rules for gym re-opening are:
- Capacity: 33% occupancy limit.
- Masks must always be worn by staff, volunteers, visitors and patrons. Adequate signage must be posted conspicuously outlining masking requirement.
- Protocols for staff who test positive for COVID-19, along with daily screening (containing at minimum questions listed below)
4. Access: Sign-in with contact information and health pre-screening prior to entry required for staff, volunteers, visitors and patrons (containing at minimum questions listed below).
5. PPE: Appropriate face coverings always required.
6. Distancing: 6 feet of separation always.
7. 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. Please https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html
8. Classes: All 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. Sign-in with contact information and health pre-screening prior to entry required for all classes. Screening questions must at least include the following:
- Do you feel ill today?
- Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days?
- Is there anyone in your household that has tested positive for, and/or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Have you traveled outside of NYS to an area with high prevalence of COVID-19 in the past 14 days? https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory If so, the person must follow the State’s travel advisory regulations.
- Have you recently been tested for COVID-19 and currently awaiting results?
9. 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. Avoid use of hand dryers and other equipment that may aerosolize particles.
10. 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), air filters must be able to help prevent the transmission of viral particles.
11. Inspection: Local health departments, in collaboration with municipal building and code inspectors, shall inspect before or within two weeks of the gym/fitness center opening to ensure compliance.