A petition is demanding gyms across New York State be allowed to reopen from the COVID-19 shutdown.

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On Wednesday, in a somewhat surprising announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced beginning Friday malls can open in regions that have entered Phase 4 of reopening.

Later, CEO of the Pyramid Management Group Stephen J. Congel announced Pyramid Management Group malls in the Hudson Valley plan to reopen on Friday. Pyramid Management Group operates the Poughkeepsie Galleria, Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown and Palisades Mall in Rockland County.

In order to reopen, malls across the state must first implement an enhanced Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - or HVAC - filtration system and follow proper ventilation protocols, officials say.

It remains unclear if this new rule will be extended to places like gyms or movie theaters, which are also closed due to concerns over air conditioners spreading coronavirus.

A Change.org petition is calling for all New York gyms to reopen as soon as possible.

"Gyms help keep people healthy. They keep the body from deteriorating as well as the mind sharp. They are the best preventative "medicine" we have! Gyms help prevent many of the diseases (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc) that make viruses and other infections more deadly and less easily fought off by the body's immune system. Our infection rates are extremely low and gym owners in NY State have had the opportunity to see what gyms in other states have done well and not so well since many have opened weeks, if not over a month, ago," Jon Gut, who started the petition, wrote. "Infection rates have not risen due to gym re-openings according to a search of various state websites and news outlet sites from across the country. Proactive and smart gym owners have spent weeks retrofitting their spaces and purchasing supplies for the start of phase 4 and we are now having the rug pulled out from under us. We have hired staff back from furlough, started advertising and have negotiated with landlords all based on the date of Phase 4 starting. This is all based on Governor Cuomo's instructions that gyms are recreation and recreation was phase 4, with 2 weeks between each phase, so long as infections rates stayed low and declined. We have met those requirements and demand to open in Phase 4!"

As of this writing, nearly 16,000 have signed the petition.