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A New Jersey gym owner who opened this week in defiance of coronavirus health and safety measures is standing resolute in his convictions that the decision to shutter small businesses like his is a constitutional matter.
In an interview on "Fox & Friends" with host Steve Doocy, Atillis Gym co-owner Ian Smith said Tuesday that he was not worried about receiving a charge to appear in court from police on Monday because his team is "prepared for anything."
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"You know, we had informed all of our members that there is a possibility that when they step in the door that they can be fined...But, we went ahead and we were proactive and the people involved -- some of the members and volunteers -- have set up a GoFundMe. And, our lawyer has decided to represent anybody who gets charged," he explained. "So, we’re all in this together."
Shortly after Smith opened his business, drawing a crowd of supporters who gathered outside the gym in protest of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's stay-at-home mandate, local law enforcement arrived on the scene.
Gym management said they had taken several steps to ensure social distancing and taken other precautions, such as taping off workout stations and operating at 20 percent of the building’s capacity.
Smith was told he was in violation of Murphy's order, but an officer then told the crowd to "have a nice day," allowing the gym to open as planned. Officers later returned to the scene and served the gym owners with a disorderly conduct summons. A June court date has been scheduled and Smith could face a $2,000 fine and six months in jail
"You know, we understand that at the end of the day they are doing their jobs and I sympathize with them for having to do something that they may not have wanted to do," Smith remarked.
Despite warnings from U.S. health officials who urge that gyms will only increase the chance of exposure to the deadly virus, Smith told Doocy that his protest was mainly about his constitutional rights.
"We said it from the get-go that this was about sort of a gross violation of our constitutional rights and that this is for all small businesses," he continued further.
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"We are all hurting in this time," Smith said. "And, this was about showing that small businesses can be responsible because we care and we can present a plan that is workable. And, we are flexible [in] changing that plan and adapting it. And, if we need to add even more safety measures, we are more than happy to do so."