New York gyms can reopen with coronavirus precautions as soon as Aug. 24, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says

A person wears a protective face mask outside Equinox Sports Club and gym on the Upper West Side as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 16, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that gyms across the state, which have remained closed for about five months, can resume indoor operations with some new precautions as soon as next week.

Cuomo said gyms will be allowed to resume operations at 33% capacity as soon as Aug. 24. He added that gyms must comply with state health requirements, which will be released later today. Clients and staff will need to wear masks inside the facilities and gyms will be subject to new ventilation requirements. 

“The gyms can open as soon as August 24,” he said at a news briefing. “The guidance goes out today on gyms. Basically, the outline is 33% capacity. There are health requirements that are in the guidelines that have to be maintained to their ventilation requirements. This is a whole new topic where we can do a whole lot of good work.”

Cuomo said 0.7% of all coronavirus tests in New York came back positive on Sunday, the most recent data available, adding that the state has averaged below 1% of positive tests since June. He added that six people died of Covid-19 on Sunday, far below the more than 800 daily deaths the state was seeing at the peak of the outbreak in April. 

New York, once the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, has made strides in beating back the initial outbreak and keeping the daily infection rate low compared with many other states. Still, the virus has infected more than 425,500 people and killed at least 32,800 people in the state, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Cuomo has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that even as the numbers remain low, New Yorkers must remain vigilant as the virus could quickly bounce back if people, businesses and officials rush to reopen. 

The entire state is now in the fourth and final phase of Cuomo’s reopening plan, but a number of businesses, including gyms and restaurants, remain closed for indoor operations. Cuomo has expressed particular caution when it comes to reopening gyms, which have now remained closed for about five months.

“We know gyms are highly problematic from the other states. They opened them and they had to close them,” Cuomo said at a news briefing on Aug. 6. “We’re here, poised delicately on this island of New York state with this sea of spread all around us so we know we have this storm and we have to be very, very careful.”

Health officials are still learning about how exactly the coronavirus spreads and what kind of environments present the greatest risk of infection. Infectious disease specialists say outdoor environments in which people can spread out from one another are the lowest risk. Crowded, indoor environments with poor ventilation are among the highest risk environments, specialists say, adding that it’s crucial that people wear masks in such conditions.

This is breaking news. Check back here for updates.

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