New Guidance for Residential Buildings Planning to Reopen Their Gyms
When the coronavirus pandemic struck New York in March, and the population locked down as required by the Governor’s Executive Orders, virtually all gyms and fitness centers were closed. For several months the State ordered that gyms remain closed, even during “Phase Four” of the Governor’s reopening plan. However, the State’s guidance appeared to focus primarily on commercial rather than residential gyms.
More recently, the State has issued an updated directive that now clearly applies to gyms offered as an amenity to residents of a residential building, as well as to commercial fitness facilities. The directive allows gyms to reopen, but subject to numerous detailed requirements. Among many other things:
• Occupancy must not exceed one third of the occupancy specified in the certificate of occupancy.
• The facility must be staffed to ensure compliance with the required safety procedures.
• Everyone (including both patrons and employees) must wear an acceptable face covering at all times (including while exercising, except when using a pool or shower).
• At least six feet of distance must be ensured between individuals, including while exercising. The number of workout stations must be reduced if necessary to ensure the required distance.
• Gyms must meet specific requirements for air-handling systems. This may require engaging a qualified professional (such as an HVAC technician or licensed engineer) to certify compliance.
• Gyms are subject to inspection by the Health Department, and must be registered on an online portal that the Health Department is opening in order to schedule the inspections.
• Buildings must also affirm on the State’s online form that they are in compliance with all applicable requirements (most buildings will have already done this during the “Phase Two” reopening).
Cooperatives, condominiums, and landlords should also require each patron to sign an informed consent and liability waiver, containing specific language referring to COVID-19, before being allowed to use the facility. Counsel can provide guidance concerning the foregoing requirements and the contents of the waiver form.