Even though New York City formally entered Phase Four of reopening on July 20, the city ordered many indoor spaces, namely gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants, to remain closed after other states saw surges in COVID-19 cases linked to the reopening of these spaces. On September 2, however, gyms in NYC residential buildings, hotels, offices, and colleges were given the OK to reopen. Those looking to reactivate their ClassPass membership, however, will have to wait, as indoor workout classes remain on hold in the city.
Expect to see the reopening of gyms slowly throughout September and October, because each space must submit a variety of forms to the city confirming that all safety guidelines are met. This includes an inspection request, which ensures that the space will be subject to a virtual inspection by the NYC Health Department to check compliance with the guidelines.
A full description of the reopening requirements for gyms and fitness centers is available here from New York Forward. Notably, these spaces must cap occupancy at 33% capacity. In addition, all patrons must wear masks and complete some type of sign-in or remote check-in to allow contact tracing. Every effort should be made to ensure six feet distance between people in all directions, which may require the repositioning of exercise equipment and workout stations. Owners and/or managers are also required to post their reopening plans, so employees and clients can see exactly what safety measures are in place before returning to the gym.
Additional protocols for fitness facilities from New York Forward include the cleaning and disinfecting of workout equipment between each user and the cleaning and disinfecting of locker rooms and similar spaces at least every two hours. The state has also set requirements for air filtration systems in gyms, mainly that each space must use the highest level of filtration tolerated by their ventilation system. Compliance must be documented by a certified HVAC professional. The guidelines include additional precautionary tips for buildings older than 15 years, which are the norm rather than the exception in NYC, as well as general advice for improving ventilation even when a space lacks central air.
The extensive guidelines and procedures from New York Forward will help establish both physical safety and peace of mind for employees and fitness gurus who are eager to get back to their weights and exercise machines. Of course, for those still concerned about shared indoor spaces, the cooler temperatures this fall will make outdoor workouts a bit more bearable as well.