May 16, 2020
Starting on Monday, non-essential businesses in New Jersey will be permitted to provide curbside pickup and delivery services. Customers will not be allowed inside stores and purchases must be done in advance by phone or online.
Gyms, which were ordered to close on March 16 because of the state's COVID-19 outbreak, are not among those businesses permitted by Gov. Phil Murphy to reopen on Monday.
But Ian Smith, owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, Camden County said that is not going to stop him from opening his doors. Appearing on FOX News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Wednesday, Smith said he has a plan to keep members of his gym safe and he plans to reopen Monday, too.
"Enough is enough. We've gotten to the point where I've watched so many businesses around me collapse," Smith said. "I've watched people lose their jobs, and there's no progress moving forward. We're ready to take action ourselves, and we have thought long and hard about it. All of our actions come from the heart, with not our best interests in mind, but what we feel is the greater good for ourselves, our community, and the state and nation as a whole."
Smith said his plans for social distancing and to keep members safe goes "above and beyond." His staff will be taking the temperatures of members at the front door; gym equipment has been rearranged so it is all at least six fee apart; he will control the number of people working out at the same time; and there will be new signage throughout the gym.
"Every single person walking in the gym is going to have to follow instructions or they will be asked to leave," Smith said.
The business owner expects his decision reopen Atilis Gym will not be well-received by New Jersey officials.
"We're prepared for any and all consequences," Smith said. "Our actions on Monday are going to be grounded in the ideals of civil disobedience. What we intend to showcase is that we reject the premise of essential versus nonessential businesses. Anything that Walmart can do with hundreds, if not thousands, of people passing through the stores everyday touching everything in sight, a small business — whether it be a restaurant, a gym, a hair salon, or anything else — can replicate those things."
Smith and his employees do not doubt the health risk of the coronavirus and COVID-19, he said.
"What we're saying is that we can be prosperous, and we can be cautious at the same time because if we choose one or the other, that situation is going to lead us down a dark road," Smith said. "There's a common ground in the middle to be found, and we think we're going to showcase that on Monday, regardless of whatever consequences come our way."
Incase anyone missed the interview tonight! Thank you all for the support. https://www.facebook.com/TuckerCarlsonTonight/videos/227483458676807/?vh=e&d=nPosted by Atilis Gym, Bellmawr, NJ on Wednesday, May 13, 2020
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was asked about Atilis Gym during his briefing the day after Smith appeared on Carlson's show. "He's out of compliance, and that's not going to be tolerated," Murphy said.
Last month, a Jersey Shore gym in Point Pleasant was busted for sneaking in customers in defiance of New Jersey's coronavirus restrictions. Residents of the Ocean County town had tipped off police to activity at the fitness center.