New York Mills, N.Y. - While the state braves for the winter season in the pandemic, Governor Cuomo announces that gyms can continue to operate in orange zones with capacity reducing from 33% to 25%.
The new metric for an orange zone is when a community has a 4% positivity rate over the last 10 days, or 85% hospital capacity in the next three weeks, or if the Department of Health determines it is an orange zone based on the virus’ spread.
“I am overly cautious only because I know it’s impossible in a six foot box to have everyone stay in the middle of their box and I know it’s also impossible for everyone to move completely in the same direction at the same time,” said Jennifer Venezio, Owner of Body by Design Group Fitness in New York Mills.
Over the past three months, Body by Design has shifted to a hybrid model, holding classes virtually and in person with just 10 guests per class plus an instructor.
“My capacity won't change only because I have been so overly cautious from the beginning. Do I think that the difference between 33 and 25% could affect some of my fellow gyms and colleagues in the area? I do,” said Venezio. “I am not certain that that was really necessary either as were seeing that from a tracing standpoint here in the state of New York. Fitness centers are only responsible for .06% of the virus.”
Changes also include weekly testing for staff members as opposed to bi-weekly.
“We have whittled our staff down to a very small group whereby I don't think it will be difficult for us to make sure that we're getting the testing done and for everyone to know that we're getting it done,” said Venezio. “I think that that is a peace of mind thing. People are so comfortable coming in because they know all of the proper protocol is in place. I never want someone to feel concerned that we’re not doing all the right things to make sure we can keep this place open and keep people working their bodies and brains in a very difficult time.”
Even with more restrictions Venezio keeps perspective.
“This time of year is one of great joy and magic for a lot of people. I also think it’s a very difficult time of year, without a pandemic, for people. Although it’s sometimes hard with the busy-ness and the weather change and it being darker earlier it’s really imperative that you work out. I absolutely am grateful that at this time when we could be shut and worrying about having to motivate people remotely completely being open I'll take it no matter what the restrictions are.”
Other gyms and entertainment centers are still prohibited from reopening like Family Fun Factory of New Hartford which is now suing New York State over the excutive order that prevents the business from opening.
The law suit is seeking relief from the state. Family Fun Factory is a membr of the New York Fitness Coalition which is a group of gym and entertainment venue owners who oppose restrictions from the state.
"I really believe at this point and time the fitness industry probably will not be shuttered closed unless the state closes and that's what concerns me," says Charles Cassara, President and CEO of NY Fitness Coalition. "We're not getting federal money, we're not getting federal help. We can't put numbers on this. 853,000 people filed for unemployment last week alone. 1.5 million people entered below the poverty line last month in the state of New York. What are we all doing here? How is any of this going to help any of us? How are we all supposed to survive this? We're not Covid-deniers in my coalition at all. But what we are is we're asking for fairness across the board."