California gym refuses to shut down despite governor's orders and rising COVID-19 cases

The gym's owner calls the governor's orders "nothing more than suggestions."

July 15, 2020, 4:22 PM

A gym in California has refused to shut down, in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders in the wake of rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The owner of Fitness Mania in the city of Riverside has vowed to keep the gym open, saying the business is operating "lawfully" and that any orders by the governor "are nothing more than suggestions."

Newsom recently reversed the state's reopening plan and mandated that many indoor businesses would have to close.

In certain counties, including Riverside, where Fitness Mania is located, Newsom ordered fitness centers shut down unless they can be modified to operate outside.

Fitness Mania did not indicate in a social media post that it would be offering outside arrangements.

PHOTO: People work out at Fitness Mania, as owner Mike Ends is staying open in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's order that gyms close to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, in Riverside, Calif., July 14, 2020.
People work out at Fitness Mania, as owner Mike Ends is staying open in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's order that gyms close to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, in Riverside, Calif., July 14, 2020.
Terry Pierson/Orange County Register via Zuma Press

"There are some small businesses that spend a fortune trying to help please the governor and do separate things like outdoor dining ... [putting] plastic walls up, doing all kinds of crazy things to help be safer, and then he goes and shuts us [down] again," gym owner Mike Ends told Los Angeles ABC station KABC. Ends could not be reached by ABC News for additional comment.

California is currently experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to an ABC News analysis.

On Tuesday, the state was one of a handful to hit a record number of hospitalizations.

PHOTO: Fitness Mania Owner Mike Ends, left, shows Yaser Jabbar were to sign on the recall form for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who ordered gyms closed to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Riverside, Calif., July 14, 2020.
Fitness Mania Owner Mike Ends, left, shows Yaser Jabbar were to sign on the recall form for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who ordered gyms closed to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Riverside, Calif., July 14, 2020.
Terry Pierson/Orange County Register via Zuma Press

Nevertheless, Ends said that he has received substantial support for his decision to stay open.

One customer, Oran Marlando, told KABC that if people are allowed to protest, they should be able to go to the gym.

"You got [thousands] of people in an enclosed area," Marlando said, referring to the nationwide protests against police brutality. "Whereby you got a 10,000 square foot gym [where the] closest person is maybe 15 feet close."

Officials were aware of the situation at Fitness Mania and were evaluating how best to proceed, according to KABC.

The governor's office notes in its order that the state's public health officer may take additional action if needed.

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