RAMONA (KGTV) - — The owner of Ramona Fitness Center is trying to rally business owners to stand up for their rights and consider defying San Diego County public health orders that require many businesses to close.
“They’re forcing us out of business," Peter San Nicolas told ABC 10News in an interview Tuesday. "They’ll force people to not be able to pay for food and pay for home, for somewhere to live. We’re talking about basic necessities and they’re pushing us to the limit.”
Gyms are among the sectors ordered to cease all indoor operations after the county moved into the state's purple, or worst, tier. This comes as the county recorded 1,546 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, a single-day record.
San Nicolas makes the case that gyms can open safely and that forcing them to close will not stop the spread. “We haven’t had any issue with it here in the gym. We’ve had over 25,000 check-ins just since June and we’ve had no cases of covid here at the gym.”
According to the latest outbreak numbers on the county website, only 0.4% of all cases recorded between June 5 and November 14 have been tied to gyms.
However, many public health experts say there is no question gyms should be closed during this most recent surge.
"Gyms are one of the riskiest possible businesses," said Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller, an epidemiologist who teaches at UC San Diego, in an email to ABC 10News. "By definition, people are breathing heavily in an indoor space, which is a recipe for spread. And while I haven’t been inside a gym since March, I would hazard a guess that gyms that are threatening to defy county orders are also not gyms that are enforcing masking policies. They should absolutely be closed."
During the last COVID-19 surge in August, Ramona Fitness Centers became one of the first and only businesses cited and then charged by the District Attorney for remaining open in violation of public health orders. San Nicolas says he expects the County to come after him again. He is represented by a legal team attempting to sue for businesses to stay open.