Shortly after the city announced that it was permitting co-ops and condos to reopen their gyms after the mandated pandemic shutdown – provided they passed a virtual inspection by the Department of Health (DOH) – Gustavo Rusconi, the director of management operations at Argo Realty, leapt into action.
After implementing safety measures and submitting the paperwork, Rusconi went through the inspection process at a Fifth Avenue building he manages just days after the moratorium was lifted. The co-op passed muster without a hitch, and Argo has been informing boards at its other properties on how they can do the same.
During a town-hall style Zoom meeting, Rusconi went over the process from A to Z, starting with the online forms boards must submit, including a Reopening Safety Plan and an affirmation that they understand the New York State guidelines and will implement them.
On the day of the inspection, the co-op’s property manager did the FaceTime walk-through with the DOH inspector. “The first thing he did was have us step outside the building to verify our address,” Rusconi says. “Then we had to show the pathway from the lobby and the service entry to the gym, along with the appropriate signage.”
The list of requirements inside the gym included posting a safety plan; arranging exercise machines and workout stations so that people can remain at least six feet apart; providing a supply of face coverings, soap and paper towels; and designating an area for pick-ups and deliveries.
State rules require gym operators to do daily COVID-19 screenings of the staff and the people working out. Rusconi showed the inspector health questionnaires that residents fill out before they can use the gym, along with a reservation system to make sure maximum 33% occupancy isn’t exceeded. Though the gym can accommodate up to seven people, management decided to restrict usage to just one person or one family at a time, and it limited workouts to 45 minutes. “Then the gym is closed for 15 minutes so our staff can do a thorough cleaning,” Rusconi adds, “all of which we record on a log.”
The inspection took about 45 minutes, says Rusconi, who believes reopening is worth the trouble in these troubled times. “Our job is to keep boards and residents informed and clear up any confusion,” he adds. “After being cooped up in their apartments for so long, people need to get back to the gym for the stress relief – and to take a break from what’s going on.”