In one of the last remaining highly anticipated reopening announcements, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that gyms can welcome back members beginning Monday, Aug. 24. The announcement comes just days after announcing bowling centers can reopen this week.
The governor made the call at a media briefing Monday at which he said New York has just a .71% positive testing rate for COVID-19.
“That’s the lowest it has been since this began, so that is really great news,” Mr. Cuomo said.
The reopening of gyms does come with some caveats. Capacity will be limited to just 33% to start and masks must be worn at all times inside fitness centers.
The reopening criteria, which the governor said will be released Monday, will also include guidelines regarding ventilation systems, the governor said.
Local municipalities will be responsible for inspecting to make sure gyms are meeting the reopening criteria, something Mr. Cuomo said must be done by Sept. 2. The governor said gyms can still reopen next Monday, even if they have not yet been inspected by a local municipality.
“That variation is to give localities time if localities need it,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Local municipalities will also be tasked with deciding if certain fitness centers can provide classes.
Gym owners had announced a class action lawsuit last month after their businesses were not included in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan. The suit claims gyms and fitness centers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and have had to lay off at least 70,000 employees throughout the state as a result of the continued shutdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many bowling alleys across the state, many of which began reopening Monday, had also previously stated they felt they were overdue to reopen. Earlier this month, Chris Keller, owner of The All-Star in Riverhead said his company had spent the five months it was forced to close preparing to reopen safely. That included adding temperature stations at the entrance to the bowling center and its on-site restaurant, for employees and customers, who would be required to have their temperatures taken. The All-Star opened at 2 p.m. Monday.
The governor said Monday that statewide hospitalizations had declined to just 534 as of Sunday, when only six deaths were reported across New York. Just 133 patients are being treated in intensive care units.
Long Island has just a .6% infection rate.
“Everyone said once we started reopening, the reinfection rate will go up,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We avoided it.”
New York also surpassed seven million tests this weekend.
In Suffolk County, a total of 44,187 positive cases have been reported since the first case on March 9. There have been 778 cases in Riverhead and 399 in Southold.