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BLOG / 08.30.20 /Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. JacobsandThomas W. Smith

Latest Covid-19 Developments: Gyms


New York State is allowing gyms to reopen as early as August 24th, unless the locality delays openings (but not later than September 2nd). Sounds like great news, until you read the details.

The six-page “summary” of reopening guidelines for gyms and fitness centers appears on the Governor’s website, CLICK HERE.

The 17-page “Detailed Guidelines” can be found on the Governor’s website, CLICK HERE.

The summary below is written for Association that run a private gym for residents only, with at most one attendant available.

A. General Guidelines.
Maximum Occupancy: 33% of permitted occupancy based on the CO.
Mandatory Inspection by Health Dept.: The gym must be inspected by the local Health Department within fourteen days after opening.
Face Coverings Mandatory: Masks must be worn at all times, including while exercising.
Physical Distancing: 6 feet apart for patrons, as with other activities. Hands-on adjustments (by trainers, for example) are discouraged.
Off-Limits Facilities: Small locker rooms, showers (unless disinfected between uses), storage closets, restrooms (unless you create at least 6 feet of separation between toilets and sinks) and other small spaces are off-limits.

Indoor Pools, Jacuzzis & Saunas must remain closed.
Use of Equipment: Equipment must be located 6 feet apart in all directions. Equipment must be disinfected and cleaned between uses (so no one shares equipment.) Patrons are encouraged to bring their own towels and personal gear.
Sign-in Info: Patrons must sign in upon entry providing name, address and phone number (for contact tracing), and be screened for COVID and temperature. Remote scheduling and check-in is encouraged. The Association must keep a log.
Signage: Rules for use must be posted throughout.
Other Recommendations for Use:
n Directional signs for foot traffic between equipment.
n Separate entrances and exits if possible.
n Touchless hand hygiene equipment in gym.

B. Ventilation Systems.
Central air handling systems must be a minimum of MERV-13. (According to the Internet, MERV 13-16 is hospital rating.) If they do not, the Association must certify that the system could not perform at the same level it was performing at prior to COVID-19 if it was retrofitted to handle MERV-13 filtration or better. In that case, or if the Association does not have a central air handling system, they must adopt additional filtration protocols, including:
–Deploying portable air cleaners.
–Regularly inspecting window a/c units.
–Running systems for longer hours and maximizing fresh air intake.
–Opening windows.
–Setting ceiling fans to draw air upwards and prioritizing window fans to exhaust indoor air (avoiding recirculation)
–Installing UV germicide irradiation.

C. Hygiene, Cleaning, Disinfection.
In addition to the usual protocols (hand washing, disinfecting, face coverings, signage), Associations should encourage patrons to bring their own PPE and provide receptacles for disposal of PPE. Staff must be available to wipe down equipment before and after use.

D. Recordkeeping.
Site Safety Monitor. Associations must designate a site safety monitor to verify compliance with site safety plan.
Logs of Entry and Contact. Associations must maintain a log of every person, employees, contractors and vendors who may have had close contact with other individuals at the workplace.

E. Confirmation that Guidelines Have been Read; Enforcement. Associations must affirm at the end of the Detailed Guidance document that they have read and understand their obligations to comply. Governor Cuomo has implied that non-complying gyms could face significant civil fines.

Additional Guidelines for New York City
Not to be outdone, the NYC Department of Health has added its own guidelines, available at the site, CLICK HERE.
The only real difference from the State guidelines is the availability of “virtual inspections” to be conducted via your laptop. To schedule an inspection, complete the “Gym and Fitness Facility Inspection Request and Attestation Form”, CLICK HERE. Note: Other localities may impose their own guidelines as well. Check with your municipal or county health department to make sure.
We appreciate that the State is seeking to reestablish our “pre-COVID” quality of life, but we wonder how many Associations can comply responsibly with all of the requirements that have been imposed. Furthermore, an informal survey of prospective patrons shows deep misgivings among potential users whether other users will comply. Your Association may need to monitor use closely to ensure that compliant patrons are not exposed to unnecessary risk from less responsible consumers who are unwilling to take personal precautions that might interfere with their use of the gym. And you may still get tangled up in red tape attempting to comply with the extensive state and local regulations.

For more information, contact:

Ken Jacobs

Tom Smith

Jeff Buss