NJ gym that defied state lockdown rules shut down by health department

Adam Warner
May 21, 2020 - 9:33 am
NJ gym

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BELLMAWR, N.J. (1010 WINS) – A New Jersey gym that for days defied the state’s order closing all nonessential businesses over the coronavirus has been shut down by state health officials.

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The Atilis Gym in Bellmawr was shut down by the health department Thursday after remaining open for three days. The owners were reportedly issued summonses every day they remained opened.

According to Fox 29, a four-page order signed by Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli was taped to the front doors along with six orange “notice of embargo” stickers from the Camden County Division of Environmental Health.

The closure is said to come after a sewer system at the gym backed up Wednesday and plumbing crews had to be called in.

Co-owner Frank Trumbetti told Fox 29 that the gym will not open Thursday and that members would work out in the parking lot.

Ian Smith, another co-owner, told the station the gym is “dealing” with the notices and plans to reopen again Friday.

"We could open up. The place is not padlocked,” Smith said. “However, we will not defy a health code order.”

The owners have vowed to stay open despite orders put in place by Gov. Phil Murphy to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Bellmawr police issued summonses to the gym shortly after it opened its doors on Tuesday. Several supporters jeered as the officers made the announcement outside the gym in a scene similar to what had occurred when the business reopened on Monday, when summonses were also issued.

The gym’s owners have said the decision to resume operations at the members-only facility was not about financial gain, but rather a question of Constitutional rights. They have also cited several steps they have taken to ensure social distancing.

Among the precautions the gym owners took were taping off workout stations and operating 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.

Gym staff have been taking patrons’ temperatures at the door and anyone at 100.4 or above will not be allowed inside. The gym’s owners have also said it wouldn’t allow any new members to join.

The summonses that the owners got from police carry a disorderly persons offense, with a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, according to Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the state attorney general. The violations are charged by summons and not an arrest unless there are additional charges, he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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