A gym owner in the state of New Jersey is facing fines of up to $1.2 million for refusing to close his business during the ongoing pandemic lockdown.
Ian Smith, co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, has been defying the shutdown orders to keep his gym open, but the state's Governor Phil Murphy has authorized steep fines against businesses who refuse to comply.
Smith posted about the ordeal on social media, sharing news about the fines, and announcing that his gym was at risk of having its business license revoked.
If Smith continues to keep his business open, he will be facing additional fines of up to $15,000 for every day that he remains open.
Despite all this, Smith says he has no plans of closing down.
A post on the gym's Instagram page read "I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Atilis Gym Bellmawr ain’t shutting down when Murphy brings the second lockdown."
Then Smith shared a video on his personal page where he held up signs for the viewers to read that said things like:
"Today we will pass over 84,000 visits to our facility."
"We don’t mandate masks. We never will", and "No science. No shutdown".
The caption for the video read: "We have been open against unconstitutional shut down orders since May. Not once have we flinched, and the petty tyrant of New Jersey governor Murphy has tried everything he could possibly think of to ruin us. Over seven months later we still open our doors every single day."
He went on to say that he will not be told what to do by the government.
"No government official will ever tell me that I am not able to provide for my family. I do not answer to public servants – no matter what threats or punishments they impose. I am a free man. I do not ask for permission. I do not ask for forgiveness. You work for us. The only way you’ll ever close these doors is when you close my casket."
However, while some residents are concerned about the government imposed lockdowns starting over again, many people in the United States have done their best to avoid public places and social situations.
Even if there were no mandatory lockdowns, businesses would still be struggling because there are so many people who don't feel comfortable going places where they will be indoors with large crowds of people.
There has also been a lot of anger directed at politicians for their lack of effort in addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic, and rightfully so.
The PPP program which was supposed to provide funds for workers and businesses during the pandemic was short-lived, and the money mostly went to scammers and people who were already wealthy and connected to the system.
The United States government has hardly provided any help for its citizens when compared with other countries in the developed world, and we have just barely begun to see the consequences.