At the beginning of the week, gym owners tried to open the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, flying in the face of Gov. Phil Murphy’s order keeping ‘non-essential’ businesses shut down.
But as my colleague Sister Todjah reported, they got a lot of media attention when local police showed up to tell them they were in violation of the order and then told them to have a safe day, leaving them alone.
Here it is! pic.twitter.com/qUwC9n28TA
— Jojo (@jojofinger) May 18, 2020
But that wasn’t the end of it. Gov. Murphy did strike back over the week.
Police did charge the gym’s owners, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, with disorderly person’s offenses and for violating the statewide order. Police also arrested one gym member on Tuesday for violating the lockdown and obstructing the administration of law by refusing to give officers his name. Police issued summons violations to five people who used the gym’s facilities.
Important to note it wasn’t the local police who arrested the member, it was the State Police, under the charge of the Governor.
Then, on Friday, Gov. Murphy really pulled out his hole card.
Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy approved a New Jersey Department of Health request on Friday night asking the gym be ordered to close down until businesses deemed nonessential are allowed to reopen. The New Jersey Department of Health previously issued an order on Wednesday night instructing the gym to close down. County officials posted the order outside the gym.
According to reports, the order states the gym’s safety measures are inadequate because the virus is “still too great to allow for relaxation of the current mitigation measures that are in place and necessary to reduce the transmission of [the coronavirus].”
“[C]ustomers of these facilities engage in physical activities that increase the customers’ respiratory activity, which in turn can increase the amount of respiratory droplets or aerosols in a confined setting.”
But according to the gym, the health department never went inside and didn’t look at how they were accommodating for the virus, implementing social distancing inside the gym, limiting the number of people inside, and other hygienic measures.
According to Ian Smith, he said that they intended to go to federal court and hoped that they might be able to be open again come Wednesday, that they were not going down without a fight.
From CBS Philly:
“Slimeball Gov. Murphy pulled a fast one on us at the end of the day, and put a court order in to a state judge, who is of course going to uphold state wishes, for us to be shutdown via the health department,” Smith said. [….]
“Please ride this out with us. It’s not going to be easy. Gov. Murphy is pulling out all the dirty political tricks that he can possibly do. He is definitely running scared because he running out options,” Smith said. [….]
He says their legal team is filing a federal case against Gov. Murphy on Tuesday, claiming they have been robbed of due process and violated their constitutional rights.
“We should, if all goes well, be open on Wednesday,” Smith said. “Hang tight, stay with us. We are in this for the long haul. It’s not about the battle, it’s about the war and we are definitely winning.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise money to help pay the fines and carry on the legal fight.