New Jersey coronavirus update: Man banned from Planet Fitness over surgical mask

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
UNION TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey man is speaking out after he says he was banned from his local Planet Fitness over a mask dispute -- but not the kind you might think.

"It's so plainly stupid, if you don't mind me saying this," Jordan Binenstock said. "It just makes no sense. The whole time, it's made no sense."

He says he showed to his gym in Union Township wearing a surgical mask instead of a cloth one.

"They wouldn't let me in," he said. "They wouldn't let me in because I wasn't wearing a cotton mask."

Turns out Planet Fitness bans surgical masks, and Binenstock even recorded multiple interactions with employees confirming it.

"The surgical mask, we were told from corporate, that they tend to tear or deteriorate with you wearing them sweating, when you work out," an employee told him. "So those aren't permitted."

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Binestock prefers the surgical mask because it doesn't irritate his skin, and it is the same kind Governor Phil Murphy frequently wears at his press briefings.

The governor's executive order on gym reopenings "requires workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings," but it later reads "nothing in the stated policy should prevent workers or customers from wearing a surgical-grade mask or other more protective face covering if the individual is already in possession of such equipment."

A spokesperson for Planet Fitness responded with a statement.

"The safety and wellbeing of our staff and members continues to be our number one priority," it read. "Members and guests are allowed to wear disposable surgical masks at our New Jersey clubs" and that "We believe we there was a miscommunication on the guidelines, and the local Planet Fitness location is aware."

But that didn't seem to fix the situation.

"I think the problem is you reached corporate," Binenstock said. "And the problem is this is a franchise."

So called his former gym, and sure enough, he got the same reply.

"You can only wear cotton or cloth," he was told. "No surgical."

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At Muni's Coffee Joint in Lindenhurst, customers can buy a cup of coffee for other customers and leave the order on a Post-it Note on a board in the shop.

Binenstock's says Planet Fitness canceled his membership, and not only does he want an apology, he also wants a refund.

"They've wasted a lot of customers' time and money," he said.

Governor Murphy's office told Eyewitness News businesses should be flexible in permitting individuals to wear any mask that is CDC-compliant, including a surgical mask.

"The governor's orders regarding mask-wearing are intended to ensure as many individuals as possible are wearing masks so that NJ residents can more safely engage in certain activities while minimizing spread of the virus," a statement read. "We would urge businesses to be flexible in permitting individuals to wear any mask type that is CDC-compliant and suits the activity at hand, as noted in Executive Order No. 192."

If you think a business is violating a mask policy, you can submit a complaint online by CLICKING HERE.

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