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August 02, 2020

Atilis Gym owners reopen facility despite arrest for violating New Jersey’s COVID-19 business restrictions

Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti kicked down the boarded-up entrance to the Bellmawr, Camden County fitness center on Saturday

Gyms Coronavirus
Atilis Gym Bellmawr Street View/Google

Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, Camden County has been in an ongoing legal court battle with New Jersey over the state's COVID-19 business restrictions.

Atilis Gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti reopened the Bellmawr, Camden County facility on Saturday by kicking down the boarded-up entrance of the fitness center.

A group of supporters gathered outside the gym to watch Smith and Trumbetti kick down the facility’s entrance, which had been boarded up since earlier this week after the owners were arrested for violating New Jersey’s COVID-19 business restrictions.

Smith said that Gov. Phil Murphy and five other officials were served with affidavits earlier this week after the facility transitioned from a LLC to a PMA. The state had yet to respond to this business change, Smith said, thus prompting the gym owners to reopen on Saturday.

The state is also seeking to remove the gym’s business license in a hearing scheduled for this week, Smith said.

Governor Murphy is now coming to strip us of our business license. We have a hearing (that we can’t even speak in...

Posted by Ian Andrew on Friday, July 31, 2020

The reopening of Atilis Gym on Saturday comes after both Smith and Trumbetti were charged with contempt, obstruction, and violation of a disaster control act for defying a New Jersey Superior Court order to shut down in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. 

Both men, who were released this past Monday, refused to leave the fitness center despite a judge issuing a contempt of court order against them last Friday.

Last week, Camden County health inspectors found that the gym failed to provide staff with gloves and masks, exceeded capacity limits and did not implement social distancing. The gym also had covered its windows, blocking anyone from seeing into the building from the outside.

Judge Robert Lougy ordered Atilis Gym to close last Friday, but a number of people were observed entering and using the facility last weekend, in direct violation of the order. The order had permitted the health department to place a lock on the doors, but Smith and Trumbetti removed the door from its hinges and said they would not leave.

Before the court decision, Lougy had ruled that the gym could remain open if it followed New Jersey’s COVID-19 guidelines. The owners indicated they had no intention of doing so. 

Atilis Gym first reopened on May 18, defying the state's shutdown orders and prompting national media attention. The gym remained open for three days before it was shut down by state health officials, beginning a legal battle that has dragged on ever since.

Smith and Trumbetti tried to sue the state in federal court, but a judge dismissed the case last month, saying he would not interfere with New Jersey enforcing its COVID-19 restrictions. The facility then filed an appeal in state court, but Smith said that they were not granted an injunction.

The gym has held some indoor workouts, against the state's orders, since early July.

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