OXFORD (CBS) – A gym in Oxford remained open for members Wednesday, a day after a judge ruled the town can shut down Prime Fitness because it has defied state orders for the coronavirus pandemic and opened early.
Worcester Superior Court Judge Susan Sullivan ruled Tuesday that Oxford can use whatever means necessary to shut down the gym, including changing the locks, boarding up the doors and windows and shutting off the utilities.
Prime Fitness owner David Blondin opened his gym back on May 18th in defiance of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan.
In Massachusetts, gyms are not allowed to reopen until Phase Three, which cannot begin any earlier than June 29.
The town responded with citations and $7,000 in fines before heading to court.
Judge Sullivan wrote that Blondin’s refusal to comply threatens to spread the coronavirus further within the town and the Commonwealth and ruled the town can shut the gym down.
“The Town is currently reviewing its options with respect to enforcement of yesterday’s court order.,” Oxford town attorney Mark Reich told WBZ-TV in a statement Wednesday.
“The Town does intend to take action as, in contrast to Mr. Blondin who has chosen to flout the law, the Town respects the actions of the court and shall act accordingly. The Town will take appropriate actions utilizing the options offered by the court in a manner that avoids unnecessary confrontation, while serving to protect the overall interests of public health and safety.”
Blondin says he plans to keep fighting in federal court and he believes if the town shuts him down, people will keep coming anyways.
“I think, honestly, people will come here on their own, rip the locks down, rip the boards down,” he told WBZ-TV Wednesday.
No matter what happens, Blondin says he’s not backing down.
“Even, worse case scenario, if I was to I lose this case, that’s not going to stop me. I will continue to fight if this goes on two years, then so be it,” he said.
Blondin told WBZ he’s appealing all fines but, many gym members have donated thousands of dollars in case he does have to pay and they support his fight to stay open.
“I think there’s a case to be made on a constitutional basis. This is an infringement on our basic human rights as Americans,” said gym member Charles Williamson.
Other community members say the gym should stay closed until the state gives them the green light.
“He shouldn’t be open. What about the other gym places? It’s not fair, you know? It’s not fair at all,” Oxford resident Melinda Maschke.
“We’ll see what happens. I’m not scared. I’ll walk away peacefully if they do,” Blondin said of the town. “It’s worth it 100 percent no matter what I have to do to protect my business, it doesn’t matter to me.”