The state health department shut down a South Jersey gym that opened in defiance of stay-at-home orders.
Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, Camden County, reopened on Monday. The defiant action resulted in a citation for defying Gov. Phil Murphy’s shutdown order, before finally getting shut down by the state health department Thursday morning.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a closure notice that “vigorous exercise in closely confined spaces should be avoided during the current outbreak.”
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According to Ian Smith, co-owner of the gym, the official measure is part of an aggressive action against his facility. He called the closure a “dirty tactic” by the governor and said it was part of a “coordinated attack” on his establishment.
“It’s a gross abuse of power,” Smith said, adding that though the gym would not reopen Thursday in violation of a health order, it did plan to open Friday.
Smith said the health department did not inspect the gym to take a look at the safety measures put in place to protect patrons, and he vowed to file a lawsuit.
He said that the gym had been operating at 20% capacity and members were required to undergo a temperature check before entering and wear a mask unless in the middle of a set.
Smith was asked if he regretted reopening the gym and he answered, “Absolutely not. We’re gonna defend our rights.”
The health department notice said nonessential businesses could not simply set their own “divergent health measures.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Phil Murphy has enjoyed wide support for his handling of the pandemic so far.
To date, New Jersey has reported 150,399 cases of COVID-19 and 10,747 related deaths.