New York Governor Limits Gym Hours Due to COVID-19 Uptick

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will require gyms in his state to be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Eastern, starting Nov. 13, citing gyms as one of three main sources of spread of COVID-19. Two recent studies commissioned by fitness industry associations have shown the infection rate at gyms to be low. (Photo by DjordjeDjurdjevic/iStock/Getty Images Plus.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered that gyms across New York close each day at 10 p.m. Eastern starting Nov. 13 to try to curb the increase the state has seen in COVID-19 cases, the governor’s office announced on Nov. 11. Gyms may reopen each morning at 5 a.m. Eastern.

Bars and restaurants also must close between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., starting Nov. 13.

In addition, indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people.

"If you look at where the cases are coming from, if you do the contact tracing, you'll see they're coming from three main areas: establishments where alcohol is served, gyms and indoor gatherings at private homes," Cuomo said in a media release.

Club Industry has reached out to the governor’s office to find out how many cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to gyms as the source, but no response has been received yet.

Club Industry also reached out to IHRSA for a response to the charge that gyms are a main source of spread in the state but haven’t heard back yet from IHRSA.

A study commissioned by EuropeActive, the non-profit association for health clubs in Europe, and a separate one commissioned by IHRSA both showed that the risk of contracting COVID-19 at a gym was low.

The EuropeActive SafeACTiVE study found 487 positive COVID-19 cases out of 62 million health club visits, meaning the infection rate for European health club visitors was 0.78 per 100,000 visits. The COVID-19 cases were self-reported by health clubs in Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. The study was conducted by two universities, Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and King Juan Carlos University in Spain.

The IHRSA study, which tracked member check-in data from May 1 to Aug. 6 at 2,873 U.S. health clubs and studios, found that of more than 49.4 million health club visits during that time, 0.0023 percent tested positive for COVID-19, which was more than 500 times less than the estimated U.S. national average at the time the report was released. The study was  conducted by MXM, a technology and knowledge transfer company specializing in member tracking within the fitness industry. Over the course of the study, fitness centers provided their total check-ins and number of locations across all states in which they have a presence as well as self-reported the total number of positive COVID-19 cases documented between employees and members who have been in the club. 

"The reason we have been successful in reducing the spread in New York is we have been a step ahead of COVID,” Cuomo said. “You know where it's going; stop it before it gets there. And you know where it's going by following the science. This is the calibration that we've talked about: increase economic activity, watch the positivity rate—if the positivity rate starts to go up, back off on the economic activity. It was never binary—economic activity or public health—it was always both."

Governor Cuomo continued: "The rules are only as good as the enforcement. Local governments are in charge of enforcement. There are only two fundamental truths in this situation: it's individual discipline and it's government enforcement. Period. End of sentence. I need the local governments to enforce this."

The Governor took these actions amid a widespread increase in cases throughout the nation and an increase in New York, which was expected moving into the fall and winter seasons.

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