Independent Gym Owners in Ohio Sue for Right to Reopen

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A group of independent gym owners in Ohio have filed a lawsuit in an effort to get clearance to open their doors and return to business.

Thirty-five independent gym owners have filed suit with backing from the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.

"When you compare them to Home Depot, Lowe’s or Walmart, they’re able to much better operate safely and control their environment and control the people that are there,” Curt Hartman, one of the lawyers representing the gyms, told Local 12 WKRC in Cincinnati.

The lawsuit is challenging Ohio Health Department director Dr. Amy Acton and the Lake County General Health District. The group seeks a preliminary or permanent injunction so gyms can open.

Ohio is currently under an amended order, which took effect April 30 and listed gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, workout facilities and similar operations among those that will stay closed until the order is lifted or changed. 

“We believe that clearly violates the Ohio Constitution. [Dr. Acton] does not have the authority to legislate standards, criminal laws. That’s the prerogative of the general assembly,” said Hartman.

Ohio governor Mike Dewine said the state has included gym owners in a working group that is coming up with a recommendation on when it will be safe for gyms to open. 

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is also preparing to reopen with special precautions put in place, including adding extra space between cardio equipment. 

"You can expect our equipment to be spaced out,” said president and CEO Jorge Perez. “You can expect us to control traffic flow in the building. You can expect a higher degree of cleanliness."

Perez said that getting back into the gym is about more than just working out. 

"It’s about reconnecting with friends, getting back in community and doing it in such a way you’re providing safety for you and for your family,” said Perez.

Gyms and fitness centers can reopen in Indiana on May 24 and in Kentucky on June 1.

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