American gym owner fined $1.2 million vows to remain open during lockdown
"The only way you'll ever close these doors is when you close my casket."
An American gym owner facing fines of $1.2 million has vowed to keep his premises open, despite coronavirus restrictions put in place.
Ian Smith runs Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, a small town roughly 20 minutes away from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Since the onset of the pandemic in the United States, Atilis Gym has defied all lockdown restrictions put in place. Fines now total $1.2 million - but Smith has vowed to stay open.
Communicating through print-outs in a video uploaded to Instagram, Smith's message reads:
"Welcome to the Atilis Gym Bellmawr.
"We have over $1 million in fines. We have had our business license stripped. We have had our doors locked and barricaded. We have been arrested and have over 60 citations.
"Today we will pass 84,000 visits to our facility. We don't mandate masks. We never will. Gov. Murphy will see this video and fine us $15k for it.
"But... free men don't ask permission. Or for forgiveness. No science. No shutdown."
Lockdown measures have decimated vast swathes of the economy in America, Britain and all over the globe. However, many believe the United States didn't act fast enough as the Covid-19 death toll has surpassed 300,000.
Atilis Gym owner Smith blames the Governer of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, for the impact of lockdown measures on small businesses. The fitness industry, along with hospitality, has been hit particularly hard.
In the caption of his Instagram post, Smith wrote:
"We have been open against unconstitutional shut down orders since May. Not once have we flinched, and the petty tyrant of New Jersey governor Murphy has tried everything he could possibly think of to ruin us.
"Over seven months later we still open our doors every single day. No government official will ever tell me that I am not able to provide for my family.
"I do not answer to public servants - no matter what threats or punishments they impose. I am a free man. I do not ask for permission. I do not ask for forgiveness. You work for us. The only way you’ll ever close these doors is when you close my casket."