A Hanover Township, Lehigh County gym owner made good on his promise to reopen his facility Sunday, in defiance of a state order that has shuttered gyms and other businesses deemed non-life-sustaining since March, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His decision, which he told local media was “do or die,” may have come at a price, however.
The event at SuperSets drew a state police response, which was documented by a bystander in a Facebook live video that was later shared to the gym’s Facebook page. It was unclear if the gym would be facing any citations as a result of the visit, although in the video a face-masked state trooper appears to hand a citation to owner Ed Frack.
The officer can be heard telling him, “I’ve got your information…and we’ll go from there.”
The state trooper also says, “if people keep calling, we’ve got to keep coming out” and advises him that attendees should wear face masks and keep their distance from one another.
Frack told Lehigh Valley Live last week that he was reopening out of economic necessity, and that he expected his 1 p.m. event to draw hundreds of supporters to his gym on Schoenersville Road. He has also launched a GoFundMe for his business, which as of Friday had raised more than $600 toward a goal of $10,000.
Frack said his business and the area around it were big enough to support social distancing guidelines, which include the recommendation that individuals maintain six feet of distance from each other when in public.
A little after 2 p.m. few attendees appeared to be standing apart from each other and most weren’t wearing face masks, which are recommended to be worn in group settings to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. In another video posted on the gym’s Facebook page Sunday, guests at the event are shown zumbaing with social distancing.
The atmosphere in the gym’s parking lot was festive, with a DJ spinning tunes and many patrons socializing while others went inside to tour the facility or use its equipment.
Small American flags lined SuperSets’ driveway and underneath its sign hung a banner proclaiming that “united we stand, divided we fall.”
It was unclear if troopers returned to SuperSets at any point, but even with the state police response, Sunday’s event at SuperSets was relatively low-key compared to what is happening at some gyms in other states.
In New Jersey, for example, some police departments have taken an aggressive approach to dealing with businesses that defy Gov. Phil Murphy’s shutdown order.
Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, Camden County, has become the focus of an escalating struggle in the state between some business owners who say they want to reopen safely and officials who argue that cannot currently be done.
After reopening last week, the owners of Atilis closed their facility Friday when a state judge issued an order against them. Prior to that, the gym was the scene of boisterous protests involving supporters and members, one of whom was arrested by police and led away in handcuffs after he reportedly refused to give officers his name.
Reports indicate he was charged with violating the governor’s order and obstruction.
BREAKING: Bellmawr police have arrested a man who was working out inside Atilis Gym. It’s unclear what the charge is. pic.twitter.com/ljjxpEAJdB— Ellie Rushing (@EllieRushing) May 19, 2020
.@GovMurphy is literally having gym patrons ARRESTED🚨🚨🚨— Femme Fatale (@RealBasedMAGA) May 19, 2020
WTF is the @TheJusticeDept ?!
This is outrageous🤬Keep fighting back!
This man was given two citations: violation of the gov. orders & obstruction. He says he will keep coming back. 🇺🇸pic.twitter.com/C51S1Ayyj7
NJ.com reported that owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti called Murphy a “slimeball” after the judge issued the order Friday, and vowed to pursue an emergency injunction in federal court Tuesday, which will likely escalate tensions even further.
Some have criticized Smith for posturing as a pro-business advocate while defying the police, particularly in light of the fact that he has a previous convition for second-degree vehicular homicide.
In Pennsylvania, Lehigh and all of the other counties that are still in the state’s “red” zone due to the pandemic are scheduled to move to the “yellow” zone by June 5, which means that some types of businesses will be able to reopen with safety precautions in place. Gyms, however, are not permitted to operate within the yellow zone, and it remains unclear how long it will be until the Lehigh Valley is able to move to the “green” zone in which they may.
Note: This is a developing local news story. Additional details will be included as more information becomes available.