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COVID-19: Hundreds Of Gym, Fitness Center Owners Suing State Over Delayed Reopening

Gym and fitness center owners in New York are suing the state for the delayed reopening.
Gym and fitness center owners in New York are suing the state for the delayed reopening. Photo Credit: Contributed

Hundreds of owners of gyms and fitness centers in New York are forming a coalition as they plan to sue the state for being unable to reopen during Phase 4 of the state's novel coronavirus (COVID-19) economic recovery plan.

Though most of the state is in Phase 4 of reopening the economy as New York recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, gyms, and fitness centers were excluded and not permitted to reopen, angering hundreds of gym owners across the state who are crying foul.

It remains unclear when they will be permitted to reopen, and according to the lawsuit, they are alleging that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t been helpful in providing guidance on what to do moving forward.

In an interview on Fox & Friends this week, Charlie Cassara, who owns SC Fitness on Long Island and has been one of the leaders of the collective class-action lawsuit, said that gym owners “deserve” to be permitted to reopen.

“It just comes down to (the fact that) it’s Phase 4. There are no other phases,” he said. “We deserve the opportunity to open up under the CDC guidelines set forth, and we’re ready to do that.

“We’re not even given any answers. We have no layout,” he continued. “We just have ‘you are not in Phase 4. We’ll talk to you guys when we’re good and ready.’”

James Mermigis, the legal counsel representing the coalition said the entire industry has been impacted by being unable to reopen along with other businesses such as malls, professional sports, and museums.

“While we do understand the serious nature of this disease, these people have a business, they need to support their families and they are on the brink of losing everything,” Mermigis said. “There needs to be a balance between both.

“We are just asking for equal treatment here. The right to be treated equally is just as important as any other right that's protected by the Constitution," he said. “Why are malls, gyms, and movie theaters now being treated differently than tattoo parlors ... than Walmart ... than Target ... than tanning salons?" Mermigis questioned. "All these other businesses could open, but we can’t."

The group plans to file an injunction and says they expect a response from the state within a week.

In a statement, Cuomo’s office stated it couldn't comment on the lawsuit, but said "there are some things that don’t fit neatly into a phase that are going to require further study and we’re going through that right now. We’re not going to be like other states that are inviting a second wave.”

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