Gym & movie theaters left out of phase four

“We would like a clear explanation as to why"
Posted at 7:39 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 20:10:40-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “Obviously we are extremely frustrated as business owners,” remarked Ashley Draper, owner, JadaBlitz Fitness in Clarence.

Phase four reopen now excludes gyms and movie theaters and business owners want an explanation.

JadaBlitz Fitness in Clarence.

“We would like a clear explanation as to why. We are kind of being black listed from this last phase,” Draper stated.

Inside Draper’s large and elaborate fitness center off Transit Road, equipment remains idled.

Draper wants to know why the state has removed fitness centers from phase four. She says she has joined with a couple of other gym owners to form a coalition.

JadaBlitz Fitness in Clarence.

“If needed we may have to, you know, try to present a suit against the state because I feel like our rights are being violated. If a casino can open why shouldn't a gym?” questioned Draper.

New York State abruptly removed fitness centers from phase four Tuesday.

At COVID updated Wednesday, Governor Cuomo said the state is "continuing to study the impact of certain activities" that includes gyms and movie theaters.

Owner of the Aurora Theatre in East Aurora is very upset with the state’s decision.

Pilates class to raise money for Aurora Theatre
Aurora Theatre in East Aurora.

“Right now we feel like we've been totally blind sided in the fact that movie theaters we’re always suppose to be in phase four,” said Lynn Kinsella, owner, Aurora Theatre.

Kinsella was ready to reopen next Wednesday after spending three months sanitizing and setting up all new protocols to keep customers safe.

“We were removed and without any kind of idea of why and what kind of guidelines and what time frame we might have for reopening,” noted Kinsella.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was able to shed a little more light on why gyms won't open in phase four during his COVID briefing Wednesday afternoon.

“After what they are seeing in the South — that maybe movie theaters and gyms are not the safest places to be,” remarked Poloncarz.

The county executive said gyms will have to do more to keep customers safe. He said their air handling systems and air condition units can not spread COVID.

“Gyms — they're talking about now how they're going to have to find a way to ensure the HVAC system meets the standards, so they're just not spreading COVID-19 to everybody that's in there and KI don't know how they're going to do that,” Poloncarz stated.

But Poloncarz says more guidance will be coming soon and says he believes reopening for those businesses is “not that far off.”

Both the fitness and theater owner said they’ve taken extra steps to make sure they follow all the guidelines to make their businesses safe.

“We’ve worked tirelessly over the past couple of weeks to get things in place, everything from our social distancing sticker reminders to training of the staff. We invested in a Clorox 360 electro static sprayer where we would be closely down the gym for two hours in the middle of the day to disinfect the entire facility,” described Draper.

JadaBlitz Fitness in Clarence.

Kinsella says she desperately needs to open for financial reasons.

“We need to reopen. This is extremely difficult, in particular for small independent local theaters,” Kinsella replied.

The theater owner said the lengthy closure has been a hardship for her staff.

“So there is a hardship for them not being able to comeback,” Kinsella explained.