Gym Owner Defying Pandemic Closure Hosts Protest of State Orders Saturday

Local officials in Oxford shut off water and electricity from the business this week as the owner still refused to close

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The owner of a gym in Oxford, who has been told to shut down his business during the COVID-19 pandemic, held a rally today to protest the orders.

The town had water and electricity cut off from David Blondin's Prime Fitness Gym earlier this week, and posted signs detailing the closure at the building’s entrances a day after a state judge ordered it shut down by any means necessary.

Yet, some members continued to head into the gym, and several dozen people joined Blondin in protesting Gov. Charlie Baker's shutdown of non-essential businesses.

"I want gyms open I want all small businesses to open our governor is deliberately trying to ruin our economy," Blondin said.

On Thursday night, an attorney representing the town said the locks to the building had been changed with cooperation from the building's owner, who is not Blondin.

"The Town is hopeful that this action will resolve the matter and assure protection of public health and safety, which is the sole intent of the Town in this action," attorney Mark Reich said.

But Blondin is standing by his decision to keep the facility open for much of the past month.

“The town of Oxford is trying to shut down the gym, board it up, lock it, do whatever they have to do,” Blondin said Wednesday in a video on the gym’s Facebook page. “But for some reason, it’s okay for there to be a line of hundreds of people at T.J. Maxx.”

In a Facebook post, Blondin appeared to mock protests, walking back and forth outside with a sign. He said he encouraged people to gather from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to “protest, train and fight for our rights.”

He said that anyone was welcome to attend, but they should bring a sign supporting a cause along with them.

“Gym lives matter, mental health matters, black lives matter, freedom of speech matters, whatever you prefer," he said.

Blondin initially reopened his gym on May 18, the same day that Gov. Charlie Baker's first phase of reopening Massachusetts went into effect. Workout facilities like his weren't included in Phase 1, however; they aren’t set to reopen until Phase 3, likely still weeks away.

A separate Massachusetts judge found Blondin in contempt on June 5, ordering him to pay $1,000 a day the business remains open. Blondin told NBC10 Boston last month that customers “can come back every single day, I'll keep opening the doors."

A GoFundMe page supporting the Prime Fitness gym had raised more than $17,000 as of Saturday morning to go toward paying fines.

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