Gyms lawyer up to stay open amid pandemic

Gyms defy health order
Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 21:25:57-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Almost a dozen gyms retained a lawyer, preparing for a fight to stay open against San Diego County's health orders.

Monday Governor Gavin Newsom announced a long list of businesses needed to close down again, due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

That list includes:

  • places of worship
  • restaurants
  • wineries
  • movie theaters
  • family entertainment centers
  • zoos
  • museums
  • cardrooms
  • fitness centers
  • salons
  • malls.

Metroflex Gym in Oceanside has been open since May despite the health orders. Owner Lou Uridel said this renewed push to close puts them in a corner and if they close, they won't reopen.

"We have only one plan, that's to stay open, we don't have the option to keep closing opening, closing opening." Uridel said they've been denied a dozen times for loans.

"I feel like it would be a betrayal of my faith and a betrayal of my dreams to give up on that and just close down," he said.

Uridel said they're a place many find comfort, "we're continuing to get a lot of new gym members, we have stopped signing up people as of today." Uridel said they had to stop to ensure their members have access to the gym with the limited capacity imposed by the county's health orders.

San Diego County announced this week they were putting together strike teams to ensure businesses in the list above shut down.

"It definitely doesn't scare us," he said.

He said the laywer they hired found a loophole where the state health order was filed by the health department, and if they are not violating any health regulations they cannot be closed down.

San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said they were just following the state's recommendations and those businesses need to shut down to protect the community and bring down coronavirus case numbers.

Uridel said they are doing everything possible to create a healthy gym environment.

He said they brought in a biologist to measure their air flow with their bay doors open and about a half dozen industrial fans in place.

Uridel said their air flow rated 9.1/10.

He said every gym member washes their hands on the way in and out, and wipe down their equipment. He said social distancing is in place and there is more cleaning each hour.

He said if the county comes after them, "all we can really do is take it in the chin, whatever they're going to throw at us. If they're going to fine us, we'll fight it in court."

When asked if he was worried about his staff or members getting sick, he said "it's always a concern, but it's a concern at any business, even the ones that remain open. If you check around, a lot of cases have come out of Home Depot, and grocery stores and there hasn't been one blink to close any of those down."

He says his gym is a place of healing, helping military members fight PTSD and others work through the trauma of the coronavirus.

Uridel said one man who lost his wife to suicide and faced other challenges is a regular at his gym. "When he told me this is what saved his life again," Uridel said emotionally, "it just made me realize that's exactly what we have to do."

He wants to keep the doors open to provide that haven during this hard time.