BELLMAWR, N.J. - A Camden County gym's ongoing battle to remain open in defiance of New Jersey's coronavirus shutdown order will continue on Wednesday as the gym owners expect to be arrested for a second time and slapped with more fines.
Atilis Gym co-owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti say they are being fined $15,000 a day as long as they stay open. They have since racked up fines totaling $130,000.
The owners say state authorities are also expected to place barriers in front of the gym Wednesday night or Thursday morning to in another attempt to turn away gymgoers.
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In an impassioned Instagram post, Smith directed his comments to Murphy and called on the governor to discuss the gym's health and safety protocols instead of continuing to strongarm the business.
"You only seek to punish. A true leader listens to the people. We will be here, exercising the same constitutional rights you trample one. We will stand our ground. This is not a game, these are our lives."
The legal battle between New Jersey and Atilis dates back to late May when the gym first skirted the state's order that shuttered gyms and fitness centers. Since then, New Jersey has taken extreme measures to quell the gym's attempts to reopen including arresting both owners and suspending their business license.
The co-owners have long argued that the wording of the state order would allow them to open up for members only, and not the general public. When the gym first reopened in defiance, gym staff had taped off workout stations and operated at 20% of the building’s capacity; meaning about 44 patrons at a time. They also were requiring patrons to wear masks unless they were in the middle of lifting weights.
"According to our beliefs, we have been allowing our members in because of the wording of Governor Murphy's executive order stating the gym had to remain closed to the public," Trumbetti said back in May.
"We have stood firm, as long as we let members in, we are not doing anything that's against the law and criminal. The paperwork that's on the window, we don't know if it's actually deemed legal or not because they put it on in the middle of the night. We were not served with those papers."
Smith and Trumbetti were arrested and released in July on charges of fourth-degree contempt, obstruction, and violation of a disaster control act. This came after patrons were seen entering and exiting the gym despite the owners being told to suspend operations.
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