Coronavirus cases are rising in nearly half the U.S. states. And while many are chalked up to increased testing or to small, local outbreaks, some others like Arizona and North Carolina are considered more alarming. (June 11)
Officials in Oxford, Massachusetts moved to shut down a local gym that refused to close amid the coronavirus pandemic, cutting off water and electricity and posting a notice at entrances.
A Massachusetts judge ordered local officials to shut the gym down through whatever means necessary.
Attorney Mark Reich, who representing the town, confirmed to NBC Boston Thursday morning that services were cut off at the building. A noticed at the front and back entrances to the gym said, “This premises has been closed per order of the Worcester Superior Court.”
There were some people entering the gym via the key fob access, which still worked despite the power being cut, according to NBC Boston.
BREAKING: locks are being changed at Prime Fitness in Oxford. #wcvbpic.twitter.com/GViztCx3vm
— Todd Kazakiewich (@ToddKazakiewich) June 18, 2020
According to WCVB, Prime Fitness owner David Blondin has ignored previous court orders to close, hasn’t paid the thousands of dollars in fines and said he believes his constitutional rights are being violated.
Blondin has kept the gym open since May 18, which was the first day of Gov. Charlie Baker’s first phase of reopening, which does not include gyms. Fitness centers will be allowed to reopen in Phase 3, which starts no sooner than June 29.
“They can come back every single day,” Blondin told NBC Boston in May, after a town health agent delivered him a written warning. “I’ll keep opening the doors.”
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More than 7,600 people have died from the coronavirus in Massachusetts and cases in Oxford are still rising. Early evidence shows COVID-19 can spread readily in confined spaces where people are rigorously working out, according to Healthline.
Blondin is being fined $1,000 a day and he must pay the town’s costs and attorneys’ fees.
In a video posted to gym’s Facebook page Monday, Blondin appeared to mock recent protests, walking back and forth with a sign reading, “I stand with Prime,” and asking, “Since protests are ok, this means I can stay open right?”
Town officials have said they intend on enforcing the judge’s order, saying in part they will be “utilizing the options offered by the court in a manner that avoids unnecessary confrontation, while serving to protect the overall interests of public health and safety.”
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