Officers with the Bellmawr Police Department in New Jersey offered a surprising reaction to a gym owner defying Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order which shut down most non-essential businesses amid the pandemic.
According to Fox-29, people had arrived at Atilis Gym hours before its doors opened at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. Shortly after the gym reopened, Bellmawr officers arrived to speak with Ian Smith, the gym’s owner, around 10:30 a.m.
The officers informed Smith that he was “formally” in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order.
“We are and only were here for everybody’s safety today. We planned for the worst and hoped for the best, and it seems like that’s what we have out here today,” the officer said.
While most of the crowd waited in anticipation for the gym to be shut down, the officer said, “Formally, you are all in violation of the executive order. On that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe.”
“HAVE A GOOD DAY”: Police in Camden County told the owners of a New Jersey gym that reopened this morning that they were “formally” in violation of the state’s shutdown order. “On that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe.”— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) May 18, 2020
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The crowd roared with cheers for the officers. Now, footage of the moment is circulating on social networks.
An attorney representing the gym has confirmed the Camden County police did deliver a formal summons for disorderly conduct. However, the gym’s decision to reopen was based on their belief that the governor’s order infringes upon their 14th Amendment rights.
During an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Smith shared his perspective on the situation and admitted that he thought “long and hard” before making the decision to reopen. , pushing back against the governor’s order.
“We think so far, this has been just a gross violation of constitutional rights,” Smith said. “The 14th Amendment states that no state shall pass any law that infringes upon our rights as citizens, and we’ve been forced into our homes. Enough is enough.”
Although Smith is defying the governor’s orders, he has confirmed that his building will only operate at 20% capacity. He also highlighted some of the precautions he and his staff will be taking to ensure the safety of his customers.
“The measures that we took are well above and beyond,” Smith said. “We spread out the entire gym. Everything in the gym is more than six feet apart, including equipment. Every single person walking in the gym is going to have to follow instructions or leave.”
Smith has confirmed he will remain open for business.
As of Monday afternoon, the state of New Jersey has nearly 150,000 coronavirus cases. The death toll stands at 1,323.