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NY Gyms Get The Green Light To Reopen, But Not Cinemas

A photo of a gym weight
Jim Levulis

Governor Andrew Cuomo says gyms in New York can reopen as early as August 24, but must operate at one third of their regular capacity.

Cuomo says the gyms can open as early as next Monday, but with several restrictions. Capacity must be limited to 33%, masks must be worn at all times, and there will be mandatory sign-in and temperature checks at the door. Heating and cooling systems must be improved to avoid potentially recirculating the coronavirus, and what’s known as MERV-13 filters are required. 

Cuomo says the reopening of gyms has lagged behind other reopenings in New York, because of lingering safety concerns. 

“It is an area of concern that’s why we went slow on it,” said Cuomo. "Flipside is, look at our overall infection rate. We're very proud of where it is. And flipside of the scale is you need to get the economy back up, you need to get life moving forward, so that's the constant tension you're trying to walk." 

He said New York’s low infection, rate, just 0.71% of all test results received Sunday were positive, was also a factor in his decision, as was the need to reopen the economy. 

Local governments will be tasked with inspecting all of the gyms before they are allowed to reopen. The governor says the openings can be delayed until September 2, if localities need more time to do so.  

Many gyms also hold fitness classes. Cuomo says the classes can restart, but only if the local health officials say they believe it is safe. 

Movie theaters will remain closed for the time being. The governor says cinemas are “not high on the list of essential” services and present risks. 

“It is congregate, it’s one ventilation system, you’re seated there for a long period of time,” Cuomo said. “Even if you are 50 percent capacity, with one seat between the two of you, two seats between the two of you, this is a risky situation.” 

Many movie theaters across the state have lost millions of dollars in ticket sales and have laid off hundreds of workers. They argue that they can reopen safely.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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