More than 100 people gathered Sunday in Silverton, Ore., to protest a $90,000 fine that was levied against Salem’s Courthouse Club Fitness for defying a state COVID-19 closure order.
Residents of the town gathered outside the house of the safety and health enforcement manager with the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"If you're in that house, we're asking you to stand with the people ... because if you don't stand with us, we're going to go through some real difficult times," protest organizer Joey Gibson said, according the Statesman Journal.
Governor Kate Brown’s order required gyms and fitness centers, among other types of businesses, to close from Nov. 18 through at least Dec. 2 as part of a statewide freeze in response to rising COVID-19 cases.
Courthouse Club Fitness, which has locations across Salem and Keizer, announced on its Facebook page that it would remain open. The business was fined a week later.
Before the statewide freeze on businesses went into effect, Courthouse owner John Miller said a second shutdown would force him to shutter his businesses.
"As a result of the harm done to our business from the first shutdown, we will not survive another closure," Miller said in a statement. "This is a horrible position I find myself in, and it leaves me with only one choice. Courthouse Club Fitness will remain open (Nov. 18) and the days to follow."
The total fine was the result of fines against all four Courthouse locations.
"The total penalty for each individual inspection is $22,500," said Mark Peterson, acting spokesman for OSHA. "That’s a willful penalty of $17,500 for being open to the public and a separate $5,000 penalty for violating the Red Warning Notices that we posted at each location late last week."
Governor Brown’s freeze is set to expire on Dec. 2, although Marion County, which has higher case numbers may see the current freeze continue longer than the rest of the state.