This is a question we get at the studio all the time. And I wish I had a better answer than: “I don’t know, but hopefully soon.”
It’s all up to the NYC health department and the Mayor Bill de Blasio, who have deemed indoor fitness classes too risky (even as they’ve allowed gyms to reopen, restaurants to reopen, indoor sporting events to reopen, and large weddings to resume). Their rationale: 1) students find it difficult to keep masks on during classes, and 2) if they do keep them on, the masks become wet and less effective.
Of course this isn’t the case. Yoga studios outside New York City have been allowed to re-open so long as they require masks. People are able to do yoga while wearing masks. Some studios even tell their students to bring multiple masks in case the one they’re wearing becomes wet. And it’s been working. As the governor declared in December, fitness centers just “are not major spreaders” of COVID-19.
One of the more puzzling things about the situation in New York City is that the health department will permit yoga studios to let students use their spaces for their own personal practice. So we could, for example, let 4 people into the hot room if they’re practicing on their own.
But if we had 3 students in there, with 1 teacher leading them in a sequence, it would not be permitted. Same number of people in the room, all doing yoga, but if one of them is a teacher, it automatically becomes too risky?
In February, several local elected officials, joined by a coalition of boutique fitness studios, sent a letter urging the Mayor to lift this non-sensical rule. We sent a separate letter on behalf of yoga studios in particular making similar arguments, making the point about the unique role yoga studios can play in helping people cope with the psychological and emotional demands of this pandemic.
With millions of people now vaccinated, there is a real sense of hope that the worst may be behind us. As the city slowly returns to a state of normality, I would love nothing more than to see all your smiling faces again at the studio.