Gyms will reopen next week — here’s how it will work

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced the guidelines and inspection process for the reopening of gyms in Suffolk County. 

Gyms were ordered closed in March by Governor Andrew Cuomo to guard against the spread of COVID-19 and, unlike most other industries, they have remained closed until now. 

On Monday, the governor announced that all gyms and fitness centers can reopen by Monday, Aug. 24, but they will be subject to rigorous health and safety standards.

The county has also set Aug. 24 as the reopening day for commercial gyms that generate revenue or have a membership fee, such as Planet Fitness or LA Fitness. However, gyms in hotels, offices, schools and residences won’t be allowed to reopen until Aug. 31, according to the county executive.

Mr. Bellone said the County will initiate a staggered reopening schedule, beginning with commercial gyms and indoor classes that will be allowed to reopen on August 24. 

Each facility will be subject to a County health inspection to ensure proper protocols are in place and adhere to state guidelines to protect customers and staff. 

The County will also host a virtual meeting with gym and fitness center owners on Thursday, August 20, to review guidance, provide clarifications and answer any questions to ensure each business is able to reopen safely.

“With our infection rate holding steady at or below 1 percent and a robust testing system in place, we are confident we can reopen gyms in a way that is both safe and responsible,” Mr. Bellone said in a press release. “I want to remind our residents and gym owners that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. The tides may shift in this battle at any minute and we must do everything we can to prevent a second wave. So be smart, wear a mask, and follow all safety protocols.”  

Gyms may continue to operate as long as they pass their inspections, Mr. Bellone said.  

Inspections must be completed within a two week time span of the facility opening, he said. 

More specifics

• The county Department of Health Services will begin inspections on Aug. 24 for commercial, traditional gyms. The county Department of Economic Development and Planning will work in conjunction with other county agencies to launch an online database of all gyms and fitness centers located within Suffolk.

• Gym owners and managers will have to first complete the affirmation that they have reviewed and understand the state’s “NY Forward” guidelines for gyms, which are online. 

• Gym owners are required to develop a written safety plan outlining the measures the business will take to protect their employees and gym members from COVID-19. Businesses must have this plan available for review and also conspicuously posted at each location, Mr. Bellone said. 

• Facilities will be required to close communal showers, whirlpools, saunas/steam rooms, water fountains and self-serve bars and samplers. 

• While classes will be allowed to proceed, the following guidelines must be met, in which the most restrictive guidelines should determine maximum class capacity; 6 feet of distance in all directions for all class participants, class size will be limited to 33% capacity of total class size, and no more than 50 people.

• Additional requirements include sanitizing stations,and acceptable face coverings that do not include bandanas, buffs, and gaiters. 

• The guidelines also call for the limitation of physical contact activities such as boxing and martial arts, and at each inspection, businesses will receive a gallon of NYS Clean hand sanitizer.

• Mr. Bellone said gym owners can Suffolk 311 or visit the county’s Business Recovery Unit website  —  — for questions or updates.