Jersey gym owner: ‘No plans’ to pay over $1M in fines for defying shutdown orders
Atilis Gym owner Ian Smith on the future of his gym, which has gained fame this summer for defying state coronavirus restrictions, and working to create a directory of U.S. businesses who are staying open amid the pandemic.
The owners of the New Jersey gym that made headlines for defying shutdown orders are taking the revolt national by creating a countrywide directory of businesses staying open.
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“We're going to hit that critical point where there's too many businesses open to punish,” Atilis Gym owner Ian Smith said on FOX Business' “Varney and Co.” “And this whole thing will fall apart like a house of cards.”
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Smith described the website as a resource for both business owners and Americans who want to support these companies.
“Think of it as a Yelp directory for businesses that are defying any and all COVID restrictions,” Smith told host Stuart Varney. “Whether that be complete shutdowns, arbitrary time limits on when they can and cannot serve alcohol or when they can't serve food.”
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The Atilis Gym owners have had a drawn-out, ongoing public battle with their local government in Bellmawr, New Jersey over coronavirus restrictions. The business has been hit with shutdowns, arrests and daily fines, which are “well over $1 million dollars,” according to Smith who added that he has "no plans" to repay any of the penalties. Gyms in the state have been allowed to open in a limited capacity since Sept. 1.
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New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has said the reason for limiting gyms is to stop the spread of the virus, but Smith argues there’s “no science” to back up this claim.
“As of yesterday, we just hit the 81,000 visit mark with zero cases of COVID linked to the facility,” he said. “They very much did try to destroy us, but they have failed to do so. And we are going to continue to stay open no matter what.”
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Smith said the online directory of open business will have a “soft rollout” next week to start getting information populated on the site. It will act as a resource center for businesses wanting to know how to handle police and new health procedures.
Smith went on to say the site will provide fundraising and legal support as well.
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