A Farmingdale gym owner plans to file what he expects will be a class-action lawsuit to force New York State to allow gyms statewide to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo bumped gyms from phase four — which is Long Island is expected to enter on July 8 — after gyms were deemed unsafe to reopen due to fears that the air conditioning systems might recirculate the virus and infect others. But SC Fit owner Charles Cassara, who is filing the lawsuit, argues he is being denied the same rights of other business owners that have been allowed to reopen. He argues that social distancing measures can also be applied to gyms just like retailers and restaurants.
“I am very happy that the economy is opening back up and am not upset, but I want my opportunity to open up my business,” Cassara said. “You cannot close an entire industry with no data.”
The White House has said gyms can reopen “if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols” and preparedness measures that “state and local officials may need to tailor the application of these criteria to local circumstances.” Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Georgia have reopened gyms with added precautions. All but Georgia are now considered coronavirus hot-spot states.
“Logic suggests if you see a problem in other states that you explore it before you move forward in your state, and that’s what we’re doing with gyms, theaters, and malls,” the governor told reporters Friday. “Our Department of Health is trying to determine if there is any filtration system for an air conditioning system that can successfully remove the virus from air circulation.”
Cassara and his Syosset-based attorney, James Mermigis, are currently recruiting up to 2,000 gym owners statewide from Montauk to Buffalo to join the lawsuit.
“We plan to file this case under the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th amendment of the constitution,” Mermigis said. “We intend to file civil action on Friday and by Tuesday, file an injunction for an emergency hearing from the judge.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran backed Cuomo’s assertion that opening gyms may be too risky.
“There are many other options for working out other than gyms,” she said, adding that the “benefits of exercise at a gym do not outweigh the risks of the virus.”