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Gyms are open, but NYC’s still killing the independent-fitness-studio industry

Mr. Mayor, let’s get this straight: Indoor dining, indoor swimming, facials and gym workouts all got the green light to reopen, but ­Pilates, yoga and high-intensity interval-training classes remain a no-go?

How does Gotham’s healthiest industry remain shut down, months after the pandemic peaked? Our industry’s mission is to keep New Yorkers healthy through these crazy times, and we, of all businesses, are shuttered and forgotten about.

It’s baffling.

We are racking up rent bills from months spent waiting for our turn to open, with exactly zero revenue coming in. And now it isn’t clear whether that turn will come in this calendar year or the next.

Restaurants’ struggles have been front-page news for months, schools are finally open and Broadway is getting its bailout. But since we lack the size, organization and lobbyists, we aren’t getting any attention from you or your administration. What do we need to do to get a chance at survival?

There are more than 7,000 boutique fitness studios in the Big Apple that employ more than 100,000 taxpaying New Yorkers. Well, actually, we should say that there were 7,000 studios pre-pandemic — now it’s more like 6,000, and if we can’t open up in the next month, it will be more like 5,000.

An industry that was born in 2006 in New York City is now at risk of dying in 2020 on your watch. All you have to do to save the industry is let us open up with the same guidelines as our gym friends. You have deemed them fit to open, and we are just as safe.

Today, someone can go to a gym and run on a treadmill six feet away from the next runner. But the moment an instructor enters the picture, that same activity is illegal.

Again, baffling and bizarre. Since when is fitness at the gym any safer than fitness classes? There is absolutely zero evidence of group fitness being any more of a risk than gym fitness.

We can and would require masks and social distance. We would limit equipment sharing. We would implement contact tracing and upgrade our air filters to ensure our staff and clients are safe. Please, give us a chance to show you — and a fighting chance to survive this pandemic.

You claim to be a champion of small businesses, women and minorities — and guess what? We are all of those things. Many of us founders of firms are women, and a majority of our staff and clientele are also women.

In fact, 80 percent of the New Yorkers we serve are female. We employ diverse staff in our studios and our offices, and a majority of those folks are still unemployed. Why is it that male-friendly gym workouts can resume, but workouts with stronger female appeal are banned?

The longer we are shuttered, the harder it will be to bring back our out-of-work employees and our clients who’ve had to find an alternative way to stay fit — or,

N.Y.C.’s School Testing Plan May Miss Large Outbreaks, Study Finds

School reopening has become a tangled logistical process worldwide, as public officials, administrators, teachers, parents and students have had to debate measures like face shields, ventilation, shift learning and whether to go virtual partially, or altogether. Most large school districts in the country, with the exception of New York City, have gone all virtual for most or all of the fall semester, because of stubbornly high virus rates and concerns from educators, their unions, and some parents.

Reopening has become particularly fraught in New York, where Mr. de Blasio has twice delayed the start of in-person classes because of a staffing crisis and pushback from the unions representing city teachers and principals.

School systems around the world have seen widely diverging outcomes when they reopen. Some countries, like Israel, have seen explosive outbreaks, despite containment measures. Others, like Ireland and South Korea, have kept schools open without major problems.

To simplify their modeling, the N.Y.U. team chose a benchmark for New York: Germany, which they said has broadly similar background infection rates, mitigation efforts and levels of virtual teaching.

Alex Perkins, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Notre Dame who reviewed the analysis, said that using Germany as a benchmark made sense, and “what the model says about more frequent testing is moving in the right direction.” He added: “But I think there’s more room to refine the model based on the transmission rates we actually see in New York schools.”

The city is balanced on a knife’s edge, the N.Y.U. researchers said. Classes could proceed with rigorous testing and other measures, they said, but avoiding flare-ups completely will be impossible.

Positive tests will inevitably lead to temporary closures and quarantines in roughly six schools a week, they said. If the number of weekly closures is significantly higher, however, it is a sign that outbreaks are occurring in schools, the model found.

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