A message from Kyle Stewart, Executive Director for the Alliance of New York State YMCAs

The Alliance of New York State YMCAs was dismayed by the sudden news announcement that we would not be allowed to open at the beginning of Phase 4. For most of our 37 YMCAs statewide who operate 140 locations, this meant putting a disruptive, and frankly, expensive halt to their reopening plans. The consequences of the Governor’s action have not only damaged the Y’s fitness operations, but has put the viability of the non-profit services we deliver to over 1.5 million New Yorkers in jeopardy.

YMCAs are complex non-profit organizations who serve their communities in a variety of ways. We can’t simply flip a switch and reopen, that would be irresponsible and unsafe. As Phase 4 drew closer, our YMCAs carefully planned every aspect of reopening to ensure the lowest risk possible to our staff and community. We have been re-training our staff, and preparing to safely welcome our community back.

YMCAs have been safely running essential services like childcare, food distribution, and housing programs during the pandemic. We know how to operate in a manner that minimizes the risk to our staff and community. Since closing our fitness operations in March, YMCAs have renovated their facilities, adjusted their cleaning protocols, and physically redesigned their spaces in order to create an environment that exceeds the health and safety best practice guidelines from the CDC and Department of Health. At this point, we could write the operational guidelines ourselves.

As a non-profit force for good, YMCAs play a vital role in the physical health and economic vitality of communities across New York State. The Governor’s abrupt decision to prohibit YMCAs from reopening in Phase 4 is completely unwarranted.

35,000 employees and 1.5 million community members rely on New York State YMCAs every year. We strongly encourage Governor Cuomo to reconsider his assessment of YMCAs and allow us to get back to work, and back to building healthy communities across New York State. YMCAs need to be allowed to reopen at the beginning of Phase 4.