New York Permits Gyms, "Low-Risk" Arts & Entertainment, Amusement Parks, Gaming Sites, Malls and Restaurants to Reopen With Restrictions
Here's an update on Governor Cuomo's four-phase New York Forward Plan1 to gradually permit businesses to reopen by region in New York State.
Background. To recap, the four phases of the NY Forward Plan prioritized "businesses considered to have a greater economic impact and inherently low risks of infection for the workers and customers, followed by other businesses considered to have less economic impact, and those that present a higher risk of infection spread.2" Phase Four businesses (deemed to have a higher risk of infection) include3:
- Higher Education
- Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools
- Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment4
- Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment5
- Media Production
- Professional Sports Competitions With No Fans
- Gyms and Fitness Centers
- Video Lottery Gaming and Casino Gaming
While all ten NY regions met the health metrics to enter Phase Four in July, gyms and fitness centers and video lottery gaming and casino gaming remained closed throughout NY State. Similarly, indoor common portions of retail shopping malls and indoor low-risk arts and entertainment were prohibited to reopen in NY City6.
Gyms, "Low-Risk" Arts & Entertainment, Amusement Parks, Gaming Sites, Malls and Restaurants May Now Reopen With Restrictions
Here's a summary of new reopening guidance as of September 29, 2020. Keep in mind that all businesses - those that were ordered to close at the beginning of the pandemic, and those businesses that were not closed -- are required to comply with industry-specific safety guidelines. The guidelines require businesses to have procedures for screening employees, and must be affirmed by the owner of the business7. Businesses must also develop a written safety plan outlining how the workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. The safety plan must be kept on the premises and must be made available to the NY State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities on demand8.
- Gyms, arts, and entertainment. Gyms throughout NY State (except NY City) and "low-risk" indoor arts and entertainment in NY City were permitted to reopen on August 24th in compliance with NY State Department of Health guidelines9. Within NY City, gyms and fitness centers were not permitted to open until September 2nd, indoor pools are not permitted to open until September 30th and indoor group fitness classes must remain closed until further notice10. Gyms and fitness centers are currently limited to 33% capacity and must comply with health and safety protocols including that patrons must sign-in with contact information and must undergo health screening, employees and patrons must wear face coverings at all times, and fitness classes outside of NY City are by appointment/reservation only11.
- Gaming sites. Video lottery gaming and casino gaming in NY State were permitted to reopen on September 9th in compliance with NY State Department of Health Guidelines, which currently includes a 25% capacity and an HVAC system filtration rating of at least MERV-1312.
- Malls. Indoor common portions of retail shopping malls in NY City were permitted to reopen at 50% capacity on September 9th13. In addition to compliance with health and safety protocols, malls larger than 800,000 square feet, must have an HVAC system filtration rating of at least MERV-1314.
- Amusement parks. Places of public amusement such as amusement parks, water parks and carnivals, concerts, and performing arts remain closed in NYC. However, bowling alleys were permitted to open on August 17th15.
- Restaurants. Restaurants in all ten NY regions are now permitted to open for outdoor dining. Restaurants that reopen must comply with NY State Department of Health guidelines.16 As of September 25, 2020, NY City's outdoor dining is now year-round and permanent17. Since early July, indoor dining at 50% capacity has been permitted for all NY regions except for NY City18. Restaurants in NY City will be permitted to reopen for indoor dining on September 30, 202019, but will be subject to specific NY City guidelines -- including being limited to 25% capacity, conducting temperature checks at every front door, collecting test and trace data from at least one customer at each table, and closing bar tops for seating20.
4 Low-risk outdoor entertainment includes outdoor zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks, grounds of historic sites and cultural institutions, outdoor museums, outdoor agritourism/agricultural demonstrations, and other related institutions or activities.
5 Low-risk indoor entertainment includes indoor museums, historical sites, aquariums, and other related institutions or activities, as well as art galleries, except retail galleries, which must follow the retail store guidelines.
6 New York State Executive Order 202.53
9 New York State Executive Order 202.57
12 New York State Executive Order 202.60
13 New York State Executive Order 202.60
15 New York State Executive Order 202.57
18 New York State Executive Order 202.48
19 New York State Executive Order 202.61
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