Lawsuit threatened against mayor if fitness classes in New York cannot resume on September 2

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STATEN ISLAND, NY – The lawyer who filed a class action lawsuit against the state before Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light to reopen gyms amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic threatens to sue New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio if the city does not allow the resumption of in-store fitness classes on Wednesday, September 2.

While Cuomo said statewide gyms could reopen on Aug. 24, he said local officials – in New York’s case, it’s de Blasio – could choose to delay reopening of gyms and halls. fitness centers until September 2.

The delay was intended to allow time for inspections required by the local health department. In addition, Cuomo said local officials may choose to postpone the reopening of indoor fitness classes until a date beyond September 2.

De Blasio chose to do both.

However, James G. Hermigis, an attorney with the Mermigis Law Group, based in Syosset, New York, who filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 1,500 New York gym owners against the state earlier this month. – here, said he was going to file another such complaint – – this time against de Blasio and NYC.

“If de Blasio doesn’t open all the gyms on September 2 as Governor Cuomo said, we will take legal action against de Blasio,” Mermigis said.

“Cuomo said all gyms can open. The only authority de Blasio has over classes at a Big Box gym. So yoga, Pilates, Barre studios – all of those types of studios – can work according to Cuomo, ”said Mermigis, who noted that the lawsuit would be filed shortly after September 2 if these small fitness studios are not allowed. to reopen because they only offer lessons.

A town hall spokesman said he could not comment on the pending litigation.

But the city said it will assess the health situation as it evolves, as city health experts have deemed indoor fitness classes to be “high risk activities” for contracting the coronavirus. .

NO DEADLINE

Joseph Cannizzo, owner of Staten Island Judo Jujitsu Dojo in Annadale. (Courtesy of Joseph Cannizzo)

There is no time limit for resuming fitness classes – such as those given in a yoga studio or dojo.

This leaves many owners of fitness studios on Staten Island with little or no income – indefinitely.

“It’s the city’s responsibility to subsidize us if they want to keep us closed,” said Joseph Cannizzo, owner of Staten Island Judo Jujitsu Dojo in Annadale.

“We currently have no support from the federal, state and city governments. We pay the highest city and state income taxes in the country, and now we’re starving. We need help now! I can’t believe the audacity that they still want unpaid business property taxes on stores that haven’t been allowed to open. It’s not supposed to happen in America, ”added Cannizzo, who was part of the state’s initial lawsuit and said he plans to sign on the New York one.

Cannizzo with student Rachel Yankilevich before the coronavirus health crisis. (Courtesy of Joseph Cannizzo)

Karen Torrone, owner of 5 Boro Power Yoga, which has studios in New Dorp and Tottenville, offers virtual yoga classes through Zoom and outdoor classes during the pandemic as her physical locations have been closed. But this is not enough. She wants to be able to lead classes in the classroom, in complete safety, according to all mandatory protocols.

“While we are happy that our community is returning to the gym to exercise, we are disappointed that the mayor is preventing us from opening on September 2,” Torrone said.

“What we don’t understand is why. As we have no equipment, we are able to run our classes with all social distancing requirements, comply with all cleaning and HVAC regulations, provide temperature checks and disinfection, and we are able to enter through one door and leave from another so that there is the least amount of contact, ”she added.

THE STATE PROCEDURE STILL ACTIVATED

On behalf of 1,500 owners of fitness facilities across the state, Mermigis earlier this month filed a class action lawsuit in Jefferson County, New York, against Cuomo, New York and the Attorney General of ‘State.

“We are also proceeding to see whether these decrees were constitutional or not,” he said. “We will always sue the state for fair compensation.”

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