Coronavirus News: NJ shuts down defiant gym in Bellmawr

BELLMAWR, New Jersey -- The state health department has shut down the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr Thursday morning. The gym had been open for the past three days with summonses issued against the owner each day.

Atilis Gym gained national attention when it allowed members to go inside and workout on Monday.

A co-owner of the gym told sister station WPVI that the sewer system backed up Wednesday.

The state board of health then placed several notices outside the gym overnight, telling it not to reopen.

The gym owner said the facility will remain closed Thursday, but they are talking with their lawyers and considering their options.

The owner had vowed to keep the doors open to supporters before the apparent sewer system situation.

"I will not close my doors again unless I'm behind bars," yelled Frank Trumbetti to a crowd of supporters Tuesday morning. "And I guarantee you this door will be open every single day."

Gym members and supporters had been gathering in the parking lot to cheer as the doors opened for business each day, despite the current shutdown order in New Jersey.

Bellmawr police had also returned to the establishment Tuesday morning to issue a second citation to owners.

The tickets each carry a $2,000 fine, and gym members who decide to workout there may also face fines as well.

At least one person was detained by police after leaving the gym and having a verbal exchange with an officer. It wasn't clear whether that person would face any charges, but officials have said that patrons could receive summonses.

On Monday, the owners reopened the gym with some restrictions after several weeks of closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Only previous members were allowed admission, as no new sign-ups were being taken, and even those members were only allowed inside at a limited capacity.

Members had their temperatures taken at the door and signed medical questionnaires and waivers before entering.

"We're here, being civilly disobedient, being peaceful operating our business as we should be able to," Co-owner Ian Smith said.

The owners listed some precautions that have been put in place: including signs posted outside telling people to adhere to social distancing, limiting capacity inside the gym to 44 members at a time, taping off workout stations and spacing equipment. Owners are also providing bottles of disinfectant for members to wipe down the equipment.

"I felt safer in the gym today than I felt at Wawa, Walmart all of those places- supermarkets- they're policing us to stay six feet apart. They are requiring masks," according to gym member Chuck Sigwart, who spoke when he was finished exercising.

"Forty people were max in there, so a lot less people in there than there normally are. Just the need to clean equipment down, spacing, masks on," member Jon Centeno had said.


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