BELLEMAWR, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The owners of a New Jersey gym that has repeatedly defied Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order to remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic have once again reopened the facility just days after their arrests on contempt charges.
A judge issued a contempt order against co-owners Frank Trumbetti, 51, and Ian Smith, 33, on July 24 after they refused to close the gym.
Both owners were arrested and released on Monday.
On Saturday, the owners kicked down the plywood boards covering the gym and let 40 to 50 customers in for workouts, the latest move in a standoff over coronavirus-related restrictions. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that many customers waiting in line said they couldn’t wait to get back to their regular workouts.
The gym opened its doors in May, starting a legal battle over whether Murphy’s order for non-essential businesses to remain closed was constitutional. The owners have said they have taken steps to ensure social distancing, including taping off workout stations and operating at 20% of capacity and were also taking patrons’ temperatures and requiring them to wear masks unless they were in the middle of lifting weights.
Smith acknowledged that law enforcement would likely force them to close again, and he said he had received a letter indicating that Bellmawr officials are to consider Tuesday revoking the gym’s business license.
On Saturday, the governor said in a message on Twitter that almost 400 new positive COVID-19 cases had been recorded in the state, pushing the total above 182,000, and another 11 deaths were associated with the virus, bringing the toll in the state to 13,955 lives lost.
#COVID19 UPDATE: New Jersey has 393 new positive cases of COVID-19, pushing our cumulative total to 182,029.
Sadly, we must report an additional confirmed 11 #COVID19 deaths, pushing our total to 13,955 lives lost.
Learn more: https://t.co/JW1q8awGh7
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 1, 2020
New Jersey has been seeing an uptick in cases recently. Some clusters, officials say, are linked to indoor gatherings that violate social distancing guidelines, such as house parties and graduation parties.
Murphy said the limit on indoor gatherings remains at either 100 people or 25 percent capacity – whichever is lower. But, he said the limits could be lowered if the situation worsens.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)