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Judge rules NJ can close gym that defied COVID orders. Owners say they won’t back down ‘no matter what’ — even as prosecutors come to ‘change our locks’

Embattled Atilis Gym in New Jersey took another hit Friday — this time it came at the hand of a Superior Court judge, the New York Post reported.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration ordered the Bellmawr gym closed after co-owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti refused on May 18 to shutter their business in the wake of the governor’s coronavirus shutdown mandate.

The owners said they were going “to fight for our rights,” so the state came down on them hard.

Even Gov. Murphy took specific aim at Atilis Gym during a news conference that week, saying, “If you show up at that gym again tomorrow, there’s going to be a different reality than showing today. … These just aren’t words, we’ve got to enforce this, but I also don’t want to start World War III.”

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And on May 21, Murphy’s government, as well as county officials, plastered the gym with notices declaring the business closed.

On Friday, in a contempt of court case, Judge Robert Lougy ruled that Murphy has the authority to shut down the gym. And according to Smith, prosecutors were ordered to change the locks on the business or set up a barrier in front of the business that would prevent people from entering.

The gym’s owners said they were not surprised by the ruling and that they aren’t backing down.

In a Facebook video posted moments after Lougy’s ruling, Smith said he and Trumbetti were going to keep fighting, despite the fact that prosecutors were on their way to the gym that very moment and that the business faced a series of heavy fines.

“Our punishment here is going to be two-fold,” Smith stated while donning a “Lions Not Sheep” hat and a “Make America Lift Again” T-shirt. “The first one is that they are on their way right now to come change our locks or construct a barrier in front of our building so that people cannot enter.”

“Frank and I stayed the night here last night, and we are prepared to stay inside the building no matter what,” he continued. “We will not be backing down under any circumstances.”

He added that gym members are welcome to come to the business and help declare that “we’re tired of this.”

“The second part of [the punishment] is that we are now being heavily fined,” Smith said. “We were heavily fined today — they didn’t even tell us the actual amount yet — and then we’re going be fined every single day thereafter.”

“That’s it,” he concluded, adding, “Murphy got his way. He is coming to change our locks. We’re looking at a showdown, because Frank and I will not be backing down.”

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