Mayor Bill de Blasio says his administration was neither consulted nor does it agree with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to allow indoor fitness classes marking another point of tension for the two after hizzoner applauded what has seemed to be a return to local control.
The mayor went a step further stating that he himself would not feel safe going back into a group exercise class despite the availability of the vaccine and declining infection rates. According to de Blasio, Cuomo’s decision was likely political and the city’s health leaders contested the safety of such gatherings.
“The state of New York continues to make decisions without consulting the city of New York or our health experts or any locality, and this is why we need local control. It’s just troubling to me that our healthcare team has said very clearly, this is not what they would have done. And the state just doesn’t care,” de Blasio said Thursday morning. “I put out a statement that said we’re going to do our best to implement this rule safely because the state has the legal right to do it, but it’s not what we would have done. And on top of it I want to ask a question is this being done, because of what the data and science is telling us, or is this being done for political reasons, because it sure as hell looks like a lot of these decisions are being made by the governor because of his political needs.”
The mayor’s Senior Advisor for Public Health, Dr. Jay Varma, said that now that the state is allowing these classes to commence starting March 22, the onus will be on the participants to keep themselves safe.
“This is an area where people need to be extremely careful because we have very clear evidence of events around the country and around the world,” Varma said. “So we’d really advise people if they are going to participate in this activity – since the state is now allowing it – to make sure they follow all the precautions that we’ve talked about, similar to indoor dining. Make sure you’re getting tested regularly, make sure you’re adhering to all the precautions when you’re there, make sure everybody in the class in the facility itself is sticking with the precautions, particularly regarding distancing and making sure everybody adheres to masks. And then of course getting tested frequently because that’s going to be important. And then, finally, maybe keep a record of all the places you’ve been because if you do test positive, your contact tracer is going to want to know about it so they can notify the facility.”
City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi stated that he believes the decision to be a hazardous one for the lack of ability to control the spread in these indoor environments.
“We were not consulted on this specific decision, and as the mayor has said, this is an area where we’ve expressed concerns about the risk of spread of COVID 19, particularly because it’s an activity that combines being indoors, being in groups, and not being able to easily and consistently wear masks that don’t get wet,” Chokshi said.
Cuomo announced this decision on Wednesday, taking a few questions in a Q&A session with reporters which mostly revolved around the sexual harassment accusations against him from former and current staffers as well as journalists who have been in his sphere over the past two decades.