The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments will begin inspections next week for gyms and fitness-related facilities.

Commercial fitness-related facilities, gyms and indoor physical activity-related classes in Genesee and Orleans Counties will be allowed to reopen on Monday following an Aug. 17 announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The openings are contingent on meeting state guidelines, that include limits on capacity require masks to be worn at all times, and completing a local health department inspection within two weeks.

Paul Pettit, public health director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, said the departments are proceeding with limited guidance from the state.

The guidelines apply to fitness activities and facilities, including but not limited to standalone/hotel/residential/office/higher education institutions gyms and fitness centers, yoga/Pilates/barre studios, boxing/kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, CrossFit or other plyometric boxes, other fitness classes, dance studios, martial arts studios, spin, rowing, etc. will be allowed to reopen if they have completed the state requirements.

Each facility will be subject to a county health inspection within two weeks of their opening to ensure proper protocols are in place and adhere to state guidelines to protect customers and staff.

Prior to reopening and inspection, gym owners and managers will have to adhere to the state guidelines which can be found on the NY Forward website and completing the following steps:

n Develop a business safety plan,

n Have an HVAC inspection by an approved professional,

n Complete the affirmation for each facility location that they have reviewed and understand the New York State guidelines and will implement these protocols. Click the link for the affirmation statement and choose gyms and fitness centers, https://forms.ny.gov/s3/ny-forward-affirmation

Once the business safety plan and air handling inspection are complete and an attestation form is submitted, Genesee and Orleans Counties will begin the process of scheduling inspections. These steps must be completed prior to scheduling an inspection. For Genesee County, call (585) 343-2580 ext. 5555 and for Orleans County, call (585) 589-3278.

Among the state’s guidance:

n Capacity: 33% occupancy limit.

n Access: Sign-in with contact information and health screening required.

n PPE: Appropriate face coverings required at all times.

n Distancing: 6 feet of separation at all times.

n Hygiene/Cleaning: Cleaning and disinfection supplies made available to customers; shared equipment cleaned after every use; staff must also be available to clean and disinfect equipment in between uses; rental equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between customer use.

n Classes: By appointment/reservation only; maximum class capacity capped at number of people that can adhere to the 6-feet social distancing rules, but in no case more than 33% of the typical class size (i.e., leave stations, cycles, etc. vacant); classes should be scheduled to allow additional time for cleaning and disinfection in between each session.

n Amenities: Water bottle refill stations permitted, but not shared water fountains; communal showers are closed, but individual showers/stalls can remain open so long as they are cleaned in between use.

n Air Handling Systems: Gyms should operate at MERV-13 or greater; if they are unable to operate at that level, they must have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional document their inability to do so and adopt additional ventilation and mitigation protocols from American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

n Inspection: Local health departments shall inspect before or within two weeks of the gym/fitness center opening to ensure compliance.

Cuomo, in announcing the gym reopening, cited the state’s ongoing low infection rate, which on Friday remained below 1% positive for 14 straight days.

In Genesee County, the infection among those tested for COVID-19 was 1.33% as of Friday, with 275 total confirmed cases among 20,555 tests. In Orleans County, which has had 285 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the infection rate was 2.70 percent based on 10,536 tests.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said she was confident “we are confident we can reopen gyms and fitness facilities in a way that is both safe and responsible.”

Added Orleans County Legislature Chair Lynne Johnson: “Our counties are pro-business Counties and we will support any business trying to open as best as we can. I want to remind our residents and gym/fitness related owners that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. The tides may shift in this battle at any minute and we must do everything we can to prevent a second wave. So be smart, wear a mask, and follow all safety protocols.”

Gym owners were reminded monitor the New York Forward website to answer questions or learn of the latest updates.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1