Gym that opened during lockdown closes after getting 4 citations in 2 days

The owners planned to stay open as long as they could afford the fines.

May 13, 2020, 1:15 PM

A Pennsylvania gym that reopened during the state's stay-at-home order closed again after receiving four citations.

10X Fitness, in Lackawanna County, reopened on Monday. The gym had been shuttered since Gov. Tom Wolf ordered nonessential businesses to close their doors on March 19 to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

But Tuesday night, the gym posted on Facebook that it had decided to once again close.

"Unfortunately, due to citations, we will have to close our doors once again until further notice," the post said. "In preparing to take this unprecedented stand, we did expect these consequences."

PHOTO: 10X Fitness, a gym in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, reopened Monday despite the state's stay-at-home order requiring gyms to remain closed.
10X Fitness, a gym in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, reopened Monday despite the state's stay-at-home order requiring gyms to remain closed.
10X Fitness

The gym received four citations -- two on Monday and on Tuesday -- from the local police. Co-owner Dan Cronauer told ABC News on Tuesday that he is estimating each fine is worth around $200, but doesn't know for sure. The gym has 10 days to respond, and plans to plead not guilty, Cronauer said.

In the post, the gym said it would "continue to work with local government in exploring any and all possibilities that would allow us to open with fair and reasonable measures."

"Over the past 2 days, 10X Fitness has shown how important mental health is to our community and the vital role a gym plays," it said.

Cronauer told ABC News Tuesday he thinks gyms should be considered essential businesses.

"I think that we have to look at gyms and ask, how important are they for people and for their mental health?" Cronauer said. "I don't think it's right to lump certain businesses in certain categories."

Cronauer said there are "a lot of gray areas" with categorizing businesses. "How's a gym not essential? Not everyone has access at home," he said. "The gym can be essential to a lot of people."

The 4-month-old, 24/7 gym, run by Cronauer, his brother and father, had opened for free with reduced hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition to reducing the hours, 10X had allowed 50 people at a time in the 9,000 square-foot space -- at least half the capacity of the gym, Cronauer said -- and limited workouts to one hour. On Monday, the gym didn't have more than 25 people at a time, he said.

The gym had also recommended, but didn't require, that gym-goers wear masks. It also asked that everyone wash their hands before working out, use hand sanitizer regularly and wipe down equipment before and after use.

PHOTO: 10X Fitness has received four citations so far for reopening.
10X Fitness has received four citations so far for reopening.
10X Fitness

Gym-goers had included nurses who said they needed the gym, Cronauer said. "We had people trying to hug us -- we politely declined," he said.

"You can sanitize any machine, you can wear a mask, if somebody's close, there's ways around it, there's ways to protect yourself. so, just be smart, and you're good," Mike Lyons, who worked out at 10X on Monday, told ABC affiliate WNEP.

Last week, Pennsylvania started to lift some restrictions on work and social interactions in select counties under its phased reopening plan. But all gyms statewide are still closed, along with schools, hair and nail salons, indoor malls, indoor recreation centers and dine-in restaurants and bars. The stay-at-home order is in effect in Lackawanna County through June 4.

On Monday, the governor advised business owners to follow the law and warned that those who break it risk losing their certificate of occupancy and eligibility for business liability insurance.

"[By] opening before the evidence suggests you should, you are taking undue risks with the safety of your customers," Wolf said in a statement. "That is not only morally wrong. It's also very bad business."

The Lackawanna County district attorney also urged nonessential businesses to "continue to follow the law to keep folks safe."

"Law enforcement will attempt to educate business owners on what is allowed under the governor's order, but those who continue to defy the law will be cited," DA Mark Powell told WNEP.

Over the past month, anti-lockdown protests and demonstrations calling to reopen the economy have been popping up across the country.

On Monday, a group of protesters in Clearwater, Florida, called for gyms to reopen in Florida.

A Dallas salon owner gained national attention after receiving a citation, a cease and desist letter and a restraining order for keeping her salon open against Gov. Greg Abbott's stay-at-home order. She was ordered to spend a week in jail for contempt of court last week, but was released early.

Still, a majority of Americans approve of stay-at-home orders and disapprove of the protests, according to a new survey from the University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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