‘I'll Keep Opening the Doors': Oxford Gym Owner Defies Order to Remain Closed

David Blondin, owner of Prime Fitness Gym, is refusing to obey Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's order prohibiting fitness centers from operating during the coronavirus pandemic

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A Massachusetts gym owner is defying Gov. Baker's order to stay closed.

"The gym is open," David Blondin, owner of Prime Fitness Gym, told Oxford Health Agent Thomas Purcell when he inquired.

Not backing down to Oxford's Board of Health, Blondin, is refusing to close the gym's doors after opening Monday in violation of Gov. Charlie Baker's essential businesses order.

"It's time to get back to business and all that," he said. "I truly believe all small business owners, no matter what industry – not just the fitness industry – needs to do the same thing right now. We cannot pay our bills."

But Blondin says he's more concerned with the mental health of his members during this pandemic.

"More businesses should do this," said gym member Marilyn Bardier of Charlton. "This is mental medicine, as I put it. Essential depends on what you find essential."

Blondin is not requiring masks and says there's only so much you can do to enforce social distancing.

"We limit 25 people down to the bottom floor, 25 people onto the upstairs floor, and then we limit people to one hour time slots, and then we're cleaning every hour after people leave as well," said Blondin.

Vietnam veteran Harry Dailey, who lives across the street, says he understands the need for businesses to open, but he's concerned for his own health and the health of others.

"I'm 70. I've already been through a quadruple heart bypass," he said. "I don't need to be taken out by – I don't know, some people that just can't obey the rules."

"I have a written warning," Purcell said to Blondin after he refused to comply with the previous day's verbal warning.

It's just a written warning Tuesday, but Oxford officials said in a statement that the town could levy fines, issue a cease and desist order or file a court injunction.

"The town will take all measures necessary to ensure compliance, but will follow the procedures outlined by the enforcement guidance," the town said in a statement.

"They can come back every single day. I'll keep opening the doors," Blondin said.

The business owner says he is limiting access to current members only and that no new members can join at this time.

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