“#Reopening of gyms pits Cuomo against de Blasio — yet again”
Cuomo said fitness centers across the state can be back in business “as soon as” next Monday, subject to coronavirus-related restrictions and inspections by local governments.
He also said de Blasio could postpone reopenings in the Big Apple, but only until Sept. 2.
“Are gyms any tougher than, you know, bowling alleys or restaurants?” Cuomo said, citing two other businesses he’s allowed to reopen with restrictions.
“I don’t really think so.”
But City Hall said residents who packed on pandemic pounds will have to wait before they start hitting the gym again, because city health inspectors already have their hands full.
“There’s no higher priority than making sure our schools and child care centers are safe for learning in the fall, and the City’s dedicated team of inspectors will continue prioritizing that work,” de Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz said in an email.
Schwartz declined to set a timetable for when gyms would be back in business but noted that the city had already opted out of allowing indoor fitness classes and reopening indoor pools “at this time.”
“We’ll be developing a fair and rigorous inspection system for other gym setups in the coming weeks,” he said.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island, Brooklyn) expressed outrage over the situation.
“At what point do the businesses just say they’re gonna hang up the towel?” she said.
“They’re getting conflicting information from the city and the state. That’s what’s driving businesses crazy.”
Savino also questioned how gyms would comply with some of the restrictions imposed on them — including limiting attendance to one-third of official capacity — and accused Cuomo of “looking it at as a way to raise revenue.”
“Give them clear-cut guidelines and don’t lay in wait hoping they violate them. They need clear consistent guidelines and don’t just sit back and say, ‘I hope they f–k it up.’”
A spokesperson for the Crunch Fitness chain, which has 26 locations in the city, said the company “prepared to open, per the Governor’s guidelines, by August 24, and no later than September 2.”
“We are disappointed to hear that the Mayor may not be aligned with the Governor,” the spokesperson said by email.
“This five-month period has been devastating to our furloughed team members, franchise partners and our company. We have prepared for months to create a safe environment for our teams and members. In fact, we invite the Mayor’s Office to meet us in any Crunch gym in the City, where we can share our plans for a safe opening.”
A spokesman for CrossFit, Inc., which has 40 affiliates operating in the city, said, “Exercise is vital to public health, and we hope that Mayor de Blasio will keep both NYC residents and its small businesses healthy by allowing gyms to open under appropriate safety guidelines.”
Independent gym owner David Plasse — who filed suit in Brooklyn federal court to re-open his Plasse Strength and Fitness business in Flushing, Queens — said he’d been “told we’d get the green light” from the state and complained that City Hall had “out a wrench in my plans now.”
Plasse said he’d been generating business by “doing outdoor personal training” but noted that “my equipment is getting pretty destroyed” by the elements.
“And it sucks training outdoors. It’s hot and I haven’t even been able to do my own workout because I’ve been so exhausted from working outside in the heat,” he added.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said Cuomo’s announcement “created a lot of frustration among restaurateurs today because it’s been more than a month and not only are we not open — even though we’ve met, sustained and exceeded the health metrics allowing restaurants to open around the state — we don’t even have a plan to allow us to plan how we will be able to reopen indoors.”
“Since they announced the gym reopening I’ve heard from countless restaurants and bars asking: do we have to sue to have our voice heard?” he said.
“It’s starting to not make sense here. When you’re seeing gyms reopen indoors and restaurants in Westchester open, the frustration is boiling.”
The conflict between Cuomo and de Blasio echoes their earlier dust-up over the closing of city schools, in which the governor ultimately had the final word.
“The city is an entity within the state,” a state government source noted.
“The state has the ultimate authority in the matter concerning the reopening of any industry, and obviously in this case that includes gyms.”
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