Bellmawr gym opens for 3rd day: Owners, 6 patrons charged
BELLMAWR — The owners of the Atilis Gym were charged for a third day in a row while six other people were cited with violating the pandemic orders by patronizing the gym.
The Camden County gym first opened on Monday with about 200 people gathered in the parking lot to show support. The gym took temperatures of members and informed them about the safety rules before letting them inside.
Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti on Wednesday were cited again for violating the executive order closing non-essential businesses during the emergency. On Wednesday, police also charged them for the first time with making a public nuisance, State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said during the governor's news briefing.
Callahan hinted at an additional "actions and measures" against the gym involving the state Department of Health.
Gov. Phil Murphy said that it's a "health reality" that data shows indoor locations with no ventilation and close contact like a gym and restaurants are not good candidates to open.
"We're just not there yet on gyms. We're not there yet on indoor dining. Do we want to be there? Will we get there? Please, God, yes. But we're not there today. This is not just a point of principle; this is a reality that we are just not there yet. It's a public health matter," Murphy said.
According to the borough website, five people were issued summonses for violating the executive order on Tuesday. One person was charged with organizing a protest and one was charged with obstructing the administration of law.
Smith told New Jersey 101.5 that Bellmawr police have set up a camera in the parking lot of the shopping center to record gym members as they enter and leave.
"They're watching and recording what's going on and keeping track of how long the cars are in the parking lot so that people can't say they were just in the nutrition shop or something because we do have a nutrition shop, which is an essential business," Smith said.
The pole holding the camera has "Voorhees police" written on it.
"They're pulling people over and making criminals out of people just coming to the gym," Smith said, adding that he is unaware of anyone being arrested. Smith said "several" people called the gym after encountering police.
Smith believes Murphy himself is directing the actions of police against those who are in violation and called it "cowardly" to come after his members.
"It seems as if Gov. Murphy's orders are to sort of terrorize the members. It seems as if he is trying to scare members from coming at this point. He's been picking on and harassing members now for two days," Smith said.
"We know for a fact that the local Bellmawr police are being forced into doing this, with absolute certainty. It's a gross misuse of police power. It's a really low, underhanded tactic. I don't know how long he plans to keep it up for," Smith said.
Smith said all members who make an appointment to work out have been accommodated and they have not reached their capacity of 44 at one time.
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