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New Jersey Gym Owner Facing More Than $1 Million in Fines Refuses To Close

New Jersey Gym Owner Facing More Than $1 Million in Fines Refuses To Close

Ian Smith says he will keep his business open

Dominic Smithers

Dominic Smithers

A gym owner is facing more than $1 million in fines for flouting coronavirus rules, but is refusing to close.

Ian Smith runs the Atilis Gym in the Bellmawr, New Jersey, and believes that the state rules to limit numbers and enforce mask wearing are not legal.

The outspoken businessman argues that there is no science to back up the use of masks within a gym setting, and claims to have recently had an independent assessment over the safety measures he brought in earlier this year, which supports his case.

In a number of posts and videos to the gym's social media channels, Mr Smith has hit out at Governor Phil Murphy over his handling of the pandemic and the damage he believes political measures have done to small businesses.

In a recent video, he claimed that he will never force people to wear masks in his gym despite being slapped with over $1.2m (£913,242) in fines.

Ian Smith has refused to enforce masks at his gym.
Ian Smith

Standing in his gym, Mr Smith flicks through several sheets of paper with messages written across them.

They read: "We have been arrested and have over 60 citations. Today we will pass over 84,000 visits to our facility.

"We don't mandate masks, we never will. Gov. Murphy will see this video and fine us $15,000 for it.

"But free men don't ask permission. Or for forgiveness. No science. No shutdown."

Speaking to Fox, Mr Smith said that the governor has 'thrown everything he possibly could to shut us down'.

He told the channel: "He has arrested my partner and I, given us over 60 citations, some of them criminal. He fines us $15,497.76 per day for every day we're in operation.

"Our fines are totaling over $1.2 million, but every single day, Frank and I open our gym."

Discussing the orders being made and the effect they are having on smaller businesses, Mr Smith added: "I would go so far as to call it criminal.

"You are putting people out of business for good. You are making them reliant on big government. You are taking away their civil liberties under the guise of pretending like you care about public health."

In the state of New Jersey alone, there have been over 400,000 confirmed cases and over 17,000 confirmed deaths related to Covid-19.

Speaking over the weekend about the pandemic, Gov. Murphy said: "We must work together to beat back the second wave. Mask up. Social distance. Wash your hands. Use common sense."

In the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that London would be moving to Tier Three lockdown restrictions this week.

This will mean that from Wednesday (16 December) pubs, bars, and restaurants will have to close, and spectators will no longer be allowed to watch events in stadiums.

Featured Image Credit: Ian Smith

Topics: Science, SPORT, Coronavirus, US News, Gym, Health, Covid-19