The owners of a New Jersey gym have been hit with more than $1.2 million in fines after they defied orders to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic — but they still haven’t shut down.
The owners refused to comply with orders to close the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, even staying open amid an avalanche of fines in what they described as a “F—k you” to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, the New York Post reported.
Co-owner Ian Smith told Fox News that the gym has incurred over $1.2 million from more than 60 citations. After more than 83,000 visits during the lock-down period, the business has not been connected to a single COVID-19 infection, Smith said.
Smith recently created a video of himself standing in the middle of his busy gym without a mask, sending a message to Murphy that he would not close despite the fines. “Gov. Murphy will see this video and fine us $15k for it,” reads one of a series of flashcards Smith holds up in the video. “But … free men don’t ask permission. Or for forgiveness.”
One user on Facebook shared the video below:
As the video ends, a male voice is heard loudly saying, “F–k you, Murphy,” as Smith walks out of the frame.
According to Smith, the governor has gone to great lengths to shut down the Bellmawr small business.
“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,” he told Fox News. “Our fines are totaling over $1.2 million, but every single day, Frank and I open our gym.”
Smith called the attacks on his gym “a completely tragedy,” even going so far as to label it “criminal.”
“You are putting people out of business for good. You are making them reliant on big government,” Smith said. “You are taking away their civil liberties under the guise of pretending like you care about public health.”
In addition to remaining open during a time when New Jersey gyms are ordered to shut down, Atilis is refusing to comply with the state’s mask mandate and won’t force its patrons to comply, either.
“All of our other safety measures have kept our members safe,” he said, adding “83,000 visits and no outbreaks linked to the facility.”