ClubLife case headed to town court

Abby Hoover/Columbia-Greene MediaClubLife Health and Fitness in Valatie.

VALATIE — ClubLife Health & Fitness remained open after receiving orders from the Code Enforcement Department to shut down, Kinderhook Town Supervisor Patsy Leader said Monday.

The town will let Kinderhook Town Court handle the matter from here on, Leader said.

“I think we did what we had to do so far,” Leader said. “I didn’t want to put my code enforcer through any more.”

Leader said sheriff’s deputies were with the town’s code enforcement officer when the business was served the cease-and-desist order.

“This is what the governor’s asked us to do, nobody but the governor,” Leader said.

Leader said if there were any other businesses violating the executive orders, whether a business or a construction site, the code enforcement officer checked them out.

Leader said she hopes businesses are working on strong plans to reopen safely. She received a format for opening on Monday and linked the state Health Department’s guidelines on the town’s website.

“I can’t wait,” Leader said. “I understand everybody’s frustration also. We all want to be safe, we all want to keep everyone safe, but the thing is, we have to make sure we go by the law.”

The Capital Region, which includes Columbia County, has been cleared to start reopening, however fitness clubs and gyms are not permitted to open in the first phase of the reopening process.

ClubLife owner Alex Rosenstrach has been a proponent of quickly reopening businesses for weeks. Rosenstrach declined to comment.

Town of Kinderhook Code Enforcement Officer Wayne Voss ordered the business to cease-and-desist from operating as a gym and fitness center until the executive orders are lifted.

Rosenstrach was also served an appearance ticket for violating the governor’s executive orders and the state Public Health Law.

A person who is in willful violation is subject to punishment by imprisonment not exceeding one year or by a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both, according to the law.

In the event of additional violations, the town will call upon state and local authorities to carry out their legal responsibilities to remove any individuals within the facility, according to the governor’s executive orders, Leader said.

Any individual found within the facility will be subject to a fine up to $1,000, according to the orders.

Enforcement can be carried out by any law-enforcement agency that has jurisdiction, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said.

Cuomo introduced a four-phase plan for reopening regions that qualify. “I think there’s a reason why gyms are Phase IV, because they’re very germy places,” Mabb said. “It’s easy for the virus to spread in gyms because people are breathing hard and it’s probably hard to wear a mask when you’re working out.”

People who had prolonged contact — longer than 15 minutes — with a person who tested positive are more likely to be infected.

Mabb said those working out in the gym would be subject to contact tracing if someone who had been there gets sick.

“No doubt people who are working out with a positive person would be on our list,” Mabb said.

For liability purposes, unless there was a high rate of infection, it could be difficult to trace an outbreak back to a specific business.

“Certainly, if a significant number of people who were working out together got sick, I think you could make a case for it,” Mabb said.

Mabb encouraged the gym’s members to stay home. He said although he is having trouble working out at home, if his gym opened tomorrow, he would continue to stay home.

“There’s no way I would go to that gym,” Mabb said. “It’s just the perfect place for the virus to breed. My advice is tie a knot and hang on. I certainly wouldn’t show up at the gym.”

Mabb said he has received at least half a dozen calls from ClubLife members who are upset that Rosenstrach decided to reopen.

“I don’t think he’s doing his business any good, at this point in time, being open, because if I get six calls, there’s a lot more than that out there, people thinking the same thing,” Mabb said. “Several of them told me they’re planning on canceling their memberships.”

State Police Troop K Public Information Officer Aaron Hicks said if the Sheriff’s Office responded initially, it would be their case and the state police will not get involved unless requested by the sheriff.

“We don’t barge into other agencies’ investigations,” Hicks said. “If another agency handled it, then we allow them to handle it.”

Statewide, the New York State Police has not issued any tickets for violations, Hicks said Wednesday.

“We’ve just been educating people and so far everybody has been cooperative,” Hicks said.

On Wednesday, Cuomo announced that the Capitol Region, which includes Columbia County, will enter Phase 1 of the reopening plan Wednesday.

As of Monday, 27 county residents have died from COVID-19, according to the county Department of Health. Of the 345 positive cases, 160 residents have recovered, and 16 remain hospitalized.

Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett could not be reached for comment before time of publication.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for the Register-Star. Contact her at ahoover@registerstar.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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