A judge has ordered Atilis Gym to close its doors after the Camden County fitness facility reopened last week in defiance of the state’s coronavirus shutdown orders.
In a temporary ruling released Friday night, Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy granted a request from the New Jersey Department of Health to place temporary restraints on Atilis, directing the Bellmawr gym to remain closed to the public until the state allows businesses designated as nonessential to reopen. Lougy set a hearing date of June 8.
Ian Smith, the outspoken co-owner of the gym, called Gov. Phil Murphy a “slimeball” in an Instagram video posted after receiving the order, calling the Health Department’s attempts to close the gym “flimsy and bogus.” Smith said he and his legal team would be filing an emergency injunction request in federal court within days claiming he has been robbed of due process and his constitutional rights. He also said he hopes to reopen Wednesday.
"We’re in this for the long haul. It’s not about the battle, it’s about the way,” Smith said.
The gym had been ordered closed by the Department of Health for violating the state’s lockdown orders, but reopened on Friday after addressing a sewage problem attributed to its closure on Thursday.
Atilis has received spirited support from members. Bellmawr police arrested one gym member on Tuesday, charging him with violating Murphy’s shutdown order and with obstructing the administration of law after he declined to give officers his name. Police said five others were issued summons violations for using the gym. Owners Smith and Frank Trumbetti also were charged with a disorderly person’s offense Monday as a large crowd gathered out front of the gym on Browning Road. They have also been cited for defying the state’s shutdown order.
Several gyms across the Philadelphia region have moved to reopen despite Pennsylvania’s and New Jersey’s closures of so-called nonessential businesses. But Smith has been the most outspoken, making several appearances on Fox News and rallying supporters around the idea the state is overreaching and infringing on his rights as a business owner.
During an interview on CNBC on Thursday, Murphy said restrictions keeping indoor businesses like salons and gyms closed might be relaxed in “a matter of weeks, not months," as the state gradually moves to loosen lockdowns put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“Overwhelmingly, gym operators are doing the right thing. ... Overwhelmingly, there’s compliance,” Murphy said during his news briefing Thursday. “If you’re indoors, you don’t have ventilation. You’re in close proximity. You’re sedentary and/or you’re sweating and spitting and breathing heavily. It’s a petri dish.”