KEY POINTS

  • Courthouse Club Fitness reportedly defied the state's COVID-19 orders
  • A $126,749-penalty is reportedly the gym's fifth citation
  • The company now has 30 days to appeal the citations

Authorities fined a gym in Salem, Oregon a whopping $126,749 for refusing to comply with COVID-19 orders. It is said to be the largest penalty issued by Oregon authorities to an employer over a COVID-19 related violation, but the company is standing by its decision to remain open. 

On Tuesday, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) released a statement announcing that it has fined Capitol Racquet Sports Inc. for "willfully" not complying with the state's COVID-19 public health restrictions.

The most recent citation is actually the company's fifth, the statement explained. In November, when Governor Kate Brown ordered gyms to stop operating for two weeks to control the spread of the coronavirus, the company reportedly continued operating even after an OSHA inquiry and also after it was given Red Warning Notices for four locations. The company was fined a total of $90,000 for all four locations.

The OSHA inspected one of the four facilities again in early December and determined that the company "intentionally" disregarded the orders, potentially exposing both the customers and the employees to COVID-19. This resulted in the $126,748 penalty.

"We understand that this employer is attempting to do a number of things to keep employees safe without shutting down, but that does not allow them to substitute their judgment for that of the public health authorities," Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in the statement. "It is our expectation that employers follow well-founded health regulations that are directly intended to protect workers from a genuine hazard."

In a Facebook post, Courthouse Club Fitness owner John Miller cited several points on why they chose to remain open and noted how they handled the situation when an employee contracted COVID-19 after visiting a family member. In it, he stressed that the facility would remain open.

"I repeat my pledge to support any reasonable request to help in the fight against covid," Miller wrote. "Voluntarily bankrupting a business my members depend on for their health, and 300 employees depend on for a living, is not reasonable. Two months into our second 'two-week freeze' and I am still left with only one reasonable course of action: remain safe... and open."

The company now has 30 days to appeal the citations, as it did for the $90,000 penalty in November.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does provide important information on COVID-19 for gym and fitness center employees. It includes the ways that they can get exposed to work and how they can protect themselves and others.

The agency also noted some necessary precautions that gym-goers have to take so they can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 in gyms, fitness centers, and studios.

coronavirus gym equipment sanitize coronavirus gym equipment sanitize Photo: Danielle Cerullo - unsplash