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California Gym Owner Defies Order, Opens Days After Arrest

Brock Fritz

A California gym owner continues to open his facility despite being arrested for violating stay-at-home orders.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that about a dozen weightlifters, including owner Lou Uridel, were working out at Metroflex Gym in Oceanside just days after Uridel was arrested.

“There’s some members who kind of shy away from that and there’s some members who say, you know what, if they’re going to take me away in handcuffs for working out, they can go ahead and do it,” said Uridel, who was arrested Sunday for reopening Metroflex in violation of health orders implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gyms are considered high-risk and are not among the businesses that are being allowed to reopen in some areas of California. Therefore, Oceanside Police Department spokeswoman Bonnie Stauffer said Uridel will be cited every day the gym is open. The maximum fine is $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail for each violation. Uridel was not cited when police stopped by Thursday.

Tanya Sierra, the spokeswoman for the San Diego County district attorney’s office, said that Uridel’s first arrest is under review. He was held for about an hour, charged with a misdemeanor and will be arraigned in 90 days.

“We lost a third of our membership that took us a year and a half to get,” Uridel said of why he opened, noting that Metroflex is enforcing safety measures that include closing the gym every 90 minutes for cleaning and requiring everyone to sign a waiver and wear face masks. “If we waited, with the bills mounting, we weren’t going to be able to recover.”

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