Reopen NYC: Gyms make safety changes amid coronavirus pandemic, but still no timetable

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It's the future of fitness centers in the COVID age, with social distance markers all over a Crunch gym location in Midtown, spin classes with only every third bike available, and even the water fountains have been disabled.

"They can come upstairs, hop on a piece of cardio, and not worry about someone running next to them," Crunch Signature CEO Keith Worts said. "Gyms can open safely with the right protocols in place, and we've got the right protocols in place at Crunch."

There are subtle changes all over the gym. They have more disinfectant stations and signs on the floor telling you to keep 6 feet apart, but there's one big change you will not be able to see that's in the air. The gyms have a new air filtration system that removes virus particles from the air -- and yes, that includes COVID-19.

"We've invested probably a quarter million dollars into this technology," Worts said.

But that may not be good enough for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who pulled gyms and other indoor businesses from Phase 4 at the last minute with no new timetable.

"We're very frustrated, because there's no communication happening," Worts said.

Gyms, movie theaters and bowling alleys are some of the few remaining businesses where people congregate indoors that have not been cleared for some level of reopening in the state, but officials said they are looking at various plans submitted by the businesses.

"Various plans from different gyms around the state have submitted various limited use plans," state budget director Robert Mujica said. "We are reviewing those to see if there is an opportunity to reduce the risk, based on this limited activity...They will continue to remain closed until we think they could open safely."

In a statement, the governor's spokesperson said, "We understand that some people aren't happy, but better unhappy than sick or worse."

Cuomo called them "the nationally identified sources of increased infection" and "a dangerous activity," adding, "I don't think that is the time to do it."

We also asked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio if he thought it was going to be weeks or months until gyms were allowed to reopen.

"I don't think we're talking about the next few weeks by any stretch," he said.

He expects a post Labor Day decision, with the focus now on the new school year. But his team is keeping an open mind.

"If there is a particular air filtration system that might be the game changer, we need to leave space for that consideration," he said.

Worts said Crunch will do whatever it has to do to reopen safely.

"Whatever the mandate is, we'll enforce it," he said.

Anything, he says, to get his 40 empty gyms open again.

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