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NJ gym opens in defiance of governor’s lockdown: ‘We will not stand down’

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A New Jersey gym owner  said on Monday that after three months of complying with the Garden State’s stay-at-home order to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, residents and business owners are “sick and tired” of their rights being “trampled.”

“We made the decision to open,” said Ian Smith, the owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr told “Fox & Friends,” highlighting to host Pete Hegseth that the decision was made jointly by the gym staff and the community.

Smith vowed to keep opening up throughout the week even if police arrive Monday to enforce the stay-at-home order and shut his business down again.

“We will not stand down,” he said, speaking alongside his business partner and a crowd of supporters who are upset that “big box” stores like Walmart have been allowed to stay open amid the pandemic, as small businesses struggle to survive.

Smith last week appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” vowing to defy Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and reopen his doors the following Monday, May 18.

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“Governor Murphy has presented zero plans and I think my business partner and I have a plan to keep people safe,” said Smith.

Last week, Texas salon owner Shelley Luther was briefly jailed for defying a local stay-at-home order and opening her business. She was released after two days behind bars. Smith explained how the facility will maintain a safe environment for customers, imitating a neighboring chiropractor service.

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“We put together a plan and the plan was first that members only so we knew who were in our doors at all times and when, something big corporations are not doing … we’ll be able to track all of that very easily. We’ll be taking temperatures at the door, according to CDC recommendations. Anybody at the time who is a 100.4 or more will not be allowed in until their fever has subsided for at least 48 hours,” Smith said.

Smith went on to say, “We got spray bottles for each individual person so that anything that they touch will be disinfected before and after use … We’ve gone above and beyond and we have listed all of the steps and it’s so far beyond what the other stores are doing that, at this point, if the governor chooses to shut us down, it is absurd.”

Murphy has taken a cautious approach to reopening the economy, given that the state was the second hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. — but the governor could be feeling the mounting pressure from the crippling $3.5 billion loss of revenue across the state due to the virus.

Murphy said revenues were down 60 percent in April compared to last year. Just a day before, he eased some restrictions on retailers and construction operations in the state, allowing them to get back to work in a limited capacity.

Still, Murphy reported more than 1,216 new cases of coronavirus and 244 new deaths. In total, New Jersey has lost 9,946 people to COVID-19 and 142,704 people have been infected.

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