COVID-19 Safety and Guidance
NYC/Center COVID-19 Alert Level
NYC is using an alert level system to better help New Yorkers understand the current level of COVID-19 community spread. The Center’s COVID Response Team is updating our COVID Safety Protocols to incorporate these new NYC COVID Alert levels. These green, yellow, orange and red levels from the City provide guidance for precautions we can take based on current, local COVID-19 health data.
Currently, the city is at Yellow, the second level, meaning there is medium community spread. Learn more about the NYC COVID Alert levels by visiting: www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-alert-levels.page.
What does that mean here at The Center? At Yellow level:
- In most spaces, sasks are encouraged, but not required. Masks are always required for all individuals, regardless of the alert level, in the Adult Services section of the Keith Haring Community Wing and in all OASAS programming due to current NYS OASAS requirements. Masks are also required for all staff, visitors and clients in any OASAS treatment programming outside the Adult Services space.
If/When the COVID Alert Level for NYC changes, The Center will shift our COVID Safety Protocols, as well. For example, if the city were in the Orange or higer level, masks would be required in all spaces at The Center. We will communicate as quickly as we can to staff, group/event leaders, and impacted community members should a change occur. Please return to this webpage to check the current COVID Alert Level and related protocols.
We recognize that there are different risk levels and factors for different people within our community. As a safe haven that serves a wide range of people, we ask for your help in protecting our most vulnerable community members. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other.
Center Visitor Safety Policies
Throughout the pandemic, the safety of our staff and community has been our primary concern. This will continue to be our priority as we gradually return to the hustle, bustle and life that resonates within these walls. We’re working hard to protect you in the midst of this pandemic, but we need your help to keep our community safe, too. Please review the following safety policies prior to your visit to the building.
What we ask all Center visitors be mindful of the following:
- If you are sick or showing symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, please stay home. We have launched a number of virtual/online programs and services to meet the needs of our community. If you are experiencing symptoms, but need a service provided at The Center, please call/email the staff or group leader for virtual/online options.
- If, within the last 10 days, you tested positive for COVID-19, have had symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who may have COVID-19, please consider rescheduling your visit and/or using one of our virtual/online programs/services.
- At the Yellow/Medium Level and above, masks are required to enter the building and in common spaces.
- At all times, in spaces where healthcare services are being provided, such as The Annex, all individuals will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing regardless of vaccination status and regardless of the Alert Level. Please refer to and adhere to posted signage when entering these spaces.
- Please remember to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, cover your coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your face.
What we’re doing:
- Established health screening for all staff.
- All Center Staff are required to be vaccinated.
- Providing staff and community members with free masks and hand sanitizers. Free COVID rapid self-tests are also available by request at The Center’s front desk, while supplies last.
- Improved air quality through increased filtration and ventilation.
- Established multiple Sanitization stations on each floor including hand sanitizer, facial tissues, and disinfectant wipes.
- Enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
- Increased signage reminding of the importance of handwashing, face covering, and social distancing.
- Collecting and sharing COVID safety precautions of every event, program, and group, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to participate based on your individual healthcare needs.
Our policies are based on New York State’s, New York City’s, and the federal CDC’s current recommended guidelines. As we continue to monitor the applicable regulations, we will adjust accordingly. Since we provide healthcare services in portions of our building, in those spaces we must follow the specific New York State and CDC guidelines for healthcare settings.
While we are committed to keeping you and our staff members healthy and safe, we cannot guarantee you won’t be exposed to COVID-19. By visiting The Center, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. We encourage every visitor to make an informed decision regarding their level of participation and personal safety measures while at The Center.
How you can protect yourself and our community
Here are a few ways you can protect yourself, and others, when it comes to COVID-19. To learn more visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.
Get Vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine boosters
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing you from getting sick. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Getting vaccinated is the best way to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including people with weakened immune systems.
To find a vaccination location in New York City, visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or talk to your health care provider.
Wear a mask
- Everyone ages 2 years and older should properly wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is high, regardless of vaccination status. If you are in an area with a high COVID-19 Community Level and are ages 2 or older, wear a mask indoors in public.
- If you are at increased risk for severe illness, or live with or spend time with someone at higher risk, speak to your healthcare provider about wearing a mask at medium COVID-19 Community Levels.
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. They should talk to their healthcare providers about what additional precautions may be necessary.
- Free masks are available to Center visitors at the front desk.
Practice social distancing
If you are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, stay at least 6 feet away from other people, especially if you are at a higher risk of getting very sick with COVID-19.
Avoid poorly ventilated spaces and crowds
- If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
- If you are at increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, avoid crowded places and indoor spaces that do not have fresh air from the outdoors.
Know your status and take a COVID Test to prevent spread to others
Tests for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) tell you if you have an infection at the time of the test. This type of test is called a viral test because it looks for viral infection.
A positive test result means that you have an infection and should isolate and inform your close contacts to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others. Over-the-counter self-tests can be used at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. Anyone can use self-tests, regardless of their vaccination status or whether they have symptoms.
COVID-19 testing is one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.
To find a testing location or request a free at-home COVID-19 test, visit www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-testing.page.
Free COVID rapid self-tests are also available by request at The Center’s front desk, while supplies last. You can also order free at-home test kits via the US Postal Service.
Wash your hands often
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It’s especially important to wash your hands:
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout The Center. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover coughs and sneezes
If you are wearing a mask you can cough or sneeze into your mask. We know that can feel gross, but it’s important to not spread the droplets that come with coughing and sneezing. Put on a new, clean mask as soon as possible (we have free masks available at our front desk) and wash your hands. If you are not wearing a mask, always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw away used tissues in the trash, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. On each floor of The Center there are multiple Sanitization stations that contain hand sanitizer, facial tissues, and disinfectant wipes.
Monitor your health daily
Be alert for symptoms:
- Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
- Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. Monitoring symptoms is especially important if you are running errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
If you don’t feel good, stay home
Stay home if you’re not feeling well, or if within the last 10 days you have tested positive for COVID-19, have had symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who may have COVID-19. This will help protect others and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can be in the building?
- The building is open to the public, though some spaces, such as the library/archive will remain closed for the time being.
Can I rent space at The Center?
- Yes, The Center is providing space to rent for community groups, meetings, and events. All visitors must follow The Center’s safety guidelines and policies. To learn more or submit a request to rent space, visit gaycenter.org/events-rentals/space-request/.
Do I have to wear a mask inside the building?
- Currently, masks are recommended, but not required, in most spaces. We are following the NYC COVID Alert Levels.
- At the Green and Yellow Levels, masks are strongly encouraged in common spaces, but not required. At Orange Level and above, masks are required.
- In spaces where healthcare services are being provided, such as The Annex, masks are required at all times regardless of the Alert Level. Please refer to and adhere to posted signage when entering these spaces.
- If/When the NYC COVID Alert Level changes, we will shift our mask requirement, as well. For example, if the city were in the Green level, masks would be recommended, but not required, in most spaces at The Center. We will communicate as quickly as we can to everyone should a change occur. Please return to this webpage to check the current COVID Alert Level and related requirements.
- Individual groups and events may require masks even at the Green Level, please check the event listings for details.
Is The Center requiring vaccinations?
- The Center encourages everyone in our community to get vaccinated, but we are not requiring them at this time.
Where can I turn for further questions?
- Give us a call at 212.620.7310 or contact us via our website chat, located in the lower right corner of gaycenter.org.