June 1, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Senior centers in New York City can reopen later this month after more than a year of being shut down, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
Indoor congregate activities can reopen on Monday, June 14, de Blasio said, and the centers can offer outdoor activities immediately.
“I’ve heard from so many seniors [that] they’re ready to go back to senior centers and I’m happy to announce our senior centers are coming back in New York City,” de Blasio said.
The city has been slow to reopen senior centers in comparison to retail services—since seniors face the greatest risk and chance of death from COVID-19.
“We know seniors bore the brunt of the COVID crisis — they were the most vulnerable,” de Blasio said. “We all had to do everything in our power to protect our seniors.”
He credited the high vaccination rate for the ability to reopen senior centers. Nearly 72 percent of city residents 65 and older have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 65 percent are fully vaccinated, according to city data.
Senior centers will be open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated New Yorkers. Social distancing rules, however, will continue to be in place at the facilities.
“We’ll be careful; we’ll be safe,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to make sure there is smart distancing and all the right precautions to keep our senior centers safe, but the time [to reopen the centers] is now.”
Local nonprofit leaders who run senior centers welcomed the mayor’s announcement.
“The re-opening of senior centers in New York City is an important milestone in the City’s fight against COVID-19 and it’s a step towards overcoming the social isolation many seniors felt,” said Judy Zangwill, Executive Director of Sunnyside Community Services, which operates the Center for Active Older Adults in Sunnyside.
The Center for Active Older Adults does not yet have a reopening date set, but Zangwill said she was excited to welcome seniors back to the center soon.
“We are overjoyed about this news and know that the seniors in our community are delighted as well,” Zangwill said. “It’s a clear signal that the city is returning to normal, even for the most vulnerable among us.”