The New York City’s Health Department has announced plan to conduct “virtual inspections” of gyms before reopening on Wednesday, to ensure that new rules to keep customers and staff safe are followed.
The department explained that the virtual inspection will consist of a video call between a gym operator and a Health Department worker in which the operator shows their posted safety plan, the site’s supply of face coverings, social distancing markers, cleaning log, supply of soap and paper towels, designated area for pick-ups and deliveries and health screening records.
Gyms that fail inspection will have to close until any problems are fixed.
Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said, “We will always encourage New Yorkers to exercise and stay active, but indoor exercise is not without risk.”
“We’re being as innovative as possible with virtual inspections to ensure that fitness center staff are following the safety guidelines.” Dr Chokshi added.
State rules require gyms to do daily COVID-19 screenings of customers and staff. While they won’t have to take actual coronavirus tests, they’ll fill out questionnaires about their symptoms, previous testing and exposure to positive cases.
Even as non-essential workplaces, outdoor dining and other sectors earlier this summer began welcoming workers and customers as part of the city’s phased reopening plan, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio held off on giving the green light to gyms, noting that experts consider indoor activity much riskier in terms of coronavirus transmission than happenings outdoors.
“We are certainly going to take a pretty strict stance in the name of preserving our low level of infection we have now in New York City,” Hizzoner said last Monday on NY1.
“We want to see jobs come back. We want to see amenities for people. We also have to make sure it’s done safely.”He added.
Gyms can reopen by simply filling out online forms committing to follow rules issued by the state. Those include agreeing to operate at one-third capacity and mandatory face coverings for everyone inside.
Bill Lia, head of the New York State Fitness Alliance, said last week in a Facebook video said, “Right now we’re all busy preparing to reopen,”
“We will reopen New York gyms right. We will follow the protocols [and] keep our members and staff safe.” Bill added.
“We feel really prepared,” said Retro Fitness CEO Andrew Alfano.