With the official start of fall, and the cooler temperatures that come with it, on Tuesday, New York City has cleared all indoor pools to reopen. Pools in the country’s largest city have been closed since March, when the coronavirus pandemic began.
On Friday morning, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said that indoor pools can reopen on September 30th at 33% of capacity.
“Swimming pools are a community anchor, an exercise center, and an oasis in their neighborhoods—both literally and figuratively,” de Blasio said in a statement. “New Yorkers have worked hard to fight back COVID-19. As transmission rates remain low, we’re proud to offer more ways to slowly return to business as usual.”
This follows the reopening of indoor gyms in NYC in early September, and the opening of 15 of the city’s outdoor pools in August. Gyms in those indoor pools previously remained closed.
While the policy will apply to privately-owned facilities, the 12 city-owned indoor pools will not be reopening yet. NYC Recreation Centers, which house the pools, are being used as testing and food distribution sites, and will offer free childcare for some of the city’s children when they are assigned remote instruction.
The state reopened outdoor pools in early June, and later that month indoor pools were allowed to be open across most of the state.
New York City has had one indoor pool to use: Roosevelt Island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, has an indoor pool that is run by the state. That pool opened on August 10th with free admission at 30% capacity – which means 38 people at a time, according to the facility’s website.
Among the pools reopening will be the 50-meter tank at Asphalt Green, which was the childhood training location of US Olympic medalist Lia Neal. Asphalt Green also has swimming lessons for about 500 children each month, serving as an important water-safety center for a city almost entirely surrounded by water.
New York City and its surrounding suburbs, due in large part to its huge and dense population, were an early hot-spot for coronavirus infection, peaking in mid-April. After strict health protocols were put in place, and with a huge exodus of people from places like Manhattan with the closure of office buildings in the city, those numbers have dropped dramatically. Over the last 2 weeks, the city is averaging just 3.3 new daily cases per 100,000 of population, which is one of the lowest test rates among major American cities.
In total, New York City has contributed 244,000 of the United States’ nearly 7 million positive cases, leading to almost 24,000 deaths.