UPDATE: Atili’s Gym reportedly reopened again Tuesday morning, in further violation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order. Patch will have more information as it becomes available. Read more here: NJ Gym That Was Warned By Murphy Reportedly Reopened For Second Day
BELLMAWR, NJ — Two South Jersey gym owners were issued a summons after reopening their business Monday in defiance of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order. The action was taken after a police officer warned them they were in violation and then said: “Have a good day.”
Additionally, members who went to Bellmawr-based Atili’s Gym were issued a warning, with Murphy stating that if they showed up again Tuesday morning, they would face a “different reality than the one they faced today.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what Murphy meant.
Gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, who drew national attention for their defiance of Murphy’s orders, were issued a summons for a disorderly persons offense for reopening their gym, Bellmawr police said Monday afternoon.
They violated the portion of the governor’s stay-at-home order that states all recreation and entertainment businesses must remain closed as long as the order is in effect, police said. The order was issued in March in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“It’s the local police department’s jurisdiction, and it’s my understanding that they issued a summons to the owner,” Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said during the governor’s daily coronavirus news conference.
The gym’s mission first became known last week when Smith told Tucker Carlson on Fox News that he would defy the governor’s orders. If the state shut his gym down, he said, he would just reopen. Read more here: South Jersey Gym To Reopen In Defiance Of Coronavirus Orders
The owners announced the gym would reopen and follow social distancing guidelines and safety precautions, including taking the temperatures of members who wished to enter and denying access to anyone with a fever of 100.4 or higher. Capacity would also be limited to 44 people at a time.
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Early Monday, the parking lot was filled with people chanting, carrying signs and waving American flags. Smith told 6 ABC “it was going great.”
“We’ll see the reaction of law enforcement, we’ll see the reaction of Gov. Murphy. We’re here being civilly disobedient, operating a business as we should be.”
The crowd also broke out into chants of “We are people,” “Freedom” and USA” at various points throughout the gathering. Protesters wore shirts calling Murphy a “tyrant,” while a sign that appeared to be set up by the owners outside the gym read, “Let’s work together Mr. Murphy. Together we can do this.”
Read more: South Jersey Gym Reopens In Defiance Of Gov, Murphy’s Orders
Later, a Bellmawr police officer drew cheers from the large crowd that gathered to support the gym. He didn’t mention any summons that had been issued when he spoke just before 11 a.m.
“We are, and we’re only here for everybody’s safety today,” the officer said. “We planned for the worst, hoped for the best, and it seems like that’s what we have out here today. Formally, you are all in violation of the executive order.
“On that note, have a good day, everybody be safe,” the officer said.
He then walked away from the scene to cheers from the crowd. It has been reported elsewhere that the officer was the police chief, but Patch has not been able to confirm that.
Police didn’t address that incident in Monday afternoon’s release, and a spokesperson wasn’t available for a follow-up comment.
“We recognize the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble in adherence with existing state guidelines,” Bellmawr Mayor Charles J. Sauter III said in a statement that was shared by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter on Twitter. “I am proud of the manner in which the Bellmawr Police Department conducted themselves this morning, as well as the respect shown toward our police officers by the general public.”
When questioned about the incident during a news conference on Monday, Murphy said he wasn’t concerned about the possibility of the situation spiraling out of control, with other businesses potentially violating his orders.
A salon owner in North Jersey reportedly also said she intended to reopen in June. A church in Clementon also reopened over the weekend in violation of the governor’s order. Read more here: South Jersey Church Reopens In Spite Of Stay-At-Home Orders
“Anyone who shows up again tomorrow will face a different reality than today,” Murphy said. “We have to enforce this, but we don’t want to start World War III.”
But Murphy said that overwhelmingly, New Jersey residents are complying with the executive order.
He also said the state is painting a roadmap for reopening, as he reopened more businesses and activities Monday. He provided more details on what’s needed to restart New Jersey’s economy “with markers.” Read more here: Gov. Murphy Reopens More NJ Businesses, Activities Amid Coronavirus