KEY POINTS

  • Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, NJ ordered closed by state health officials
  • The gym defied coronavirus shutdown orders from NJ Gov. Phil Murphy
  • New Jersey remains in lockdown with nearly 11,000 COVID-19 related deaths

New Jersey state and county officials ordered a gym that opened in defiance of coronavirus shutdown orders from Gov. Phil Murphy closed citing multiple violations Thursday (May 21).

In an Instagram post, the owners of Atilis Gym called the closure “Governor Murphy’s dirty tricks, playing with his power in the health department” and claimed that the health department did not visit the gym before issuing the closure order.

The gym reportedly had to evacuate the building on Wednesday (May 20) two days after reopening due to a sewage back up. Officials still closed the gym despite the issue being corrected by emergency plumbing crew.

Atilis gym co-owner Ian Smith said that the gym will remain closed due to the health department embargo even if it was possible to physically open their doors.

“We could open up. The place is not padlocked. However, we will not defy a health code order,” Smith told Fox 29.

Co-owner Frank Trumbetti also told Fox29 that they believed that allowing their gym members to enter the premises was not against the law because of how Gov. Murphy’s coronavirus shutdown order was worded. He also doubted the legality of the red embargo notices that were stuck to the gym’s door by state health officials.

“The paperwork that's on the window, we don't know if it's actually deemed legal or not because they put it on in the middle of the night,” Trumbetti said. “We were not served with those papers.”

Atilis gym opened with a limited capacity Monday (May 18) and had patrons undergo temperature checks before being allowed to enter the facility.

The gym first gained national attention when Smith and Trumbetti promised patrons that they will open in defiance of the New Jersey coronavirus shutdown.

On Tuesday (May 19), Trumbetti told supporters outside the gym that he will open the gym every single day. “I will not close my doors again unless I'm behind bars,” he said.

Police served a second citation to the gym on Tuesday, with each citation carrying a $2,000.00 fine. The owners and five other individuals were also issued summons for violating Gov. Murphy’s shutdown orders and two others were charged with other offenses.

New Jersey was already started reopening some beaches and businesses in a limited capacity but state leaders are cautious in order to prevent more casualties from the coronavirus pandemic.

State data showed that nearly 11,000 people in New Jersey have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 150,000 people have been confirmed positive for the virus.

Murphy and other officials continue to call for New Jersey residents to respect social distancing and other health safety guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.