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'Something Out of Orwell': Defiant NJ Gym Loses License

Atilis Gym's owners kept doors open despite state's COVID restrictions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2020 11:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – A New Jersey gym that repeatedly opened its doors in defiance of state coronavirus restrictions won't get to do so again, at least as an official business. The Bellmawr Borough Council voted Tuesday to rescind the business license of Atilis Gym, reports NJ.com. Owners Ian Smith, 33, and Frank Trumbetti, 51, have long argued that the restrictions are unfair and a violation of their federal rights. They reopened the gym in May and were arrested July 27 on charges of contempt, obstruction, and violating the Disaster Control Act. Authorities then erected a wood barricade blocking access to the gym's front door. Days later, Smith and Trumbetti kicked down the barricade and welcomed as many as 50 members inside, reports the AP.

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The state Attorney General’s office responded by recommending fines of up to $10,000 per day and possible imprisonment. This "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 office said. An attorney for Smith said the information presented at Tuesday's hearing was "something out of George Orwell." Later, Smith shared a video on the gym's Instagram account in which he claimed "zero evidence" had been presented to back up the idea that his gym was threatening public health. "Our fight does not stop here," he wrote. The owners—who are living at the gym, per the Philadelphia Inquirer—previously noted they were operating at 20% capacity with physical distancing and mask requirements as well as temperature checks. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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