New Jersey gym owners arrested for defying coronavirus shutdown order
The owners of a New Jersey gym were arrested on Monday after they continued to defy the state’s shutdown orders aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr are charged with one count of fourth-degree contempt, as well as one count of obstruction and one count of violation of a disaster control act, both disorderly persons summons.
The owners refused to leave the gym when asked and were subsequently arrested, according to a statement from the office of acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer. They were released shortly after.
They shared video of their arrest, writing on the gym’s Facebook page, “Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal.”
In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Smith said he’s “not afraid of tyrants.”
“No American should be because we outnumber them greatly. And the only thing they run off of is fear, which is why you see what you see in the media, where they’re pumping fear into the coronavirus, when what they should be pumping is solutions,” Smith said.
“It’s ‘wear a mask, shut up and wait for a vaccine,’” he added. “That’s not public health and I won’t subscribe to it.”
The arrest came days after Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy found Atilis Gym to be in contempt of court for refusing to follow statewide coronavirus mandates implemented by Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
On Friday, the gym was found to have violated the governor’s orders and its owners were fined, NJ.com reported.
The amount of money due has not been set yet but the judge ordered the fines to increase daily if the gym did not close its doors.
Trumbetti and Smith were ordered to vacate the gym and cease operations but authorities observed a number of individuals entering and using the gym over the weekend, Mayer’s office said in statement.
Trumbetti and Smith have refused to temporarily shutter the business during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected at least 179,812 people in the state as of Tuesday, according to the New Jersey Health Department.
The owners removed the gym’s doors to prevent officials from padlocking them closed, according to video posted Thursday. They reportedly brought clothes and supplies needed to remain inside the gym.
“We will not leave this building under any circumstances unless they take us out in handcuffs,” Smith said after the judge’s ruling.
Current guidelines state that gyms in New Jersey must keep indoor spaces closed to the public.
They are permitted to offer individualized indoor instruction by appointment only to individuals and their families, caretakers or romantic partners, according to the reopening information.
Atilis previously was operating at 20 percent capacity, enforcing temperature checks upon entry and requiring mask use unless a member was performing a strenuous workout, such as lifting weights.