A New Jersey gym that repeatedly reopened despite Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions had its business license officially revoked on Tuesday.
The Bellmawr Borough Council voted 5-1 to revoke the mercantile license of Atilis Gym for repeatedly defying Murphy's order, which was made months ago during the height of the COVID-19 panic in the United States, NJ.com reported.
Following the decision, gym owner Ian Smith claimed the council — which is composed of all Democrats — was taking marching orders from Murphy's office.
"In a clear political move, the all democrat town council followed their orders from Gov. Murphy to revoke our business license," Smith said. "Zero evidence was put forth to support the claim that @atilisgymbellmawr poses any threat to the public. When asked, they ignored the request to hold off on the vote until evidence can be put forth. They did not allow the public to speak."
What's the background?
Despite Murphy's order, the Atilis Gym first reopened in May. Since then, Smith and his business partner, Frank Trumbetti, have been issued nine pairs of citations, have had their business forcibly closed and boarded by the government, and they have even been arrested.
The New Jersey attorney general's office even recommended daily fines of $10,000 and imprisonment for Smith and Trumbetti to "coerce" them to comply with Murphy's order.
"Atilis Gym's brazen conduct is abhorrent to an organized judicial system, jeopardizes the public health and the safety of New Jerseyans, and must not be tolerated," the state's AG office said, NJ.com reported. "It is clear that additional sanctions and relief are necessary to coerce Atilis Gym's compliance with the court's order."
However, threats from the government have not stopped the owners from seeking the survival of their business.
In fact, upon being released from jail, Smith and Trumbetti once again made headlines when they kicked down the front doors of their business, which had been boarded up by the government.
As TheBlaze reported, Atilis did not reopen without first spending thousands of dollars in health upgrades to ensure the safety of their members.
Although they did not require members to wear masks, they limited the gym capacity to just 25% — which equates to 40 to 50 members working out at once — constantly monitored members' temperatures, asked members to sign waivers, and gave each member their own disinfectant spray. They also installed a new air purification system.
"You can do this safely," Smith told the Inquirer. "You can't say that all gyms have bad ventilation. Some might — but to put them all in one category shows you don't understand discrepancies and nuance. It shows you're not actually interested in helping small businesses."
Smith has said that Atilis will continue to operate despite the council's decision, WCAU-TV reported.