‘Not backing down’: Oxford gym owner who defied Baker’s reopening plan to remain open despite likely fines

OXFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - A gym owner in Oxford who defied Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-phase reopening plan by opening his facility to members and clients on Monday was handed a citation on Tuesday and threatened with daily fines of up to $300 but still refused to close the doors to his business.

Dave Blondin, owner Prime Fitness & Nutrition, Inc. on Norwood Court, posted a video on the gym’s Facebook page Sunday morning, saying that regardless of what Baker announced Monday, he would be opening the gym doors at 7 a.m. that same day.

Baker’s four-phase plan states that gyms and fitness facilities cannot open until phase three, which will not begin until at least June 29.

Blondin also called on other gyms to defy this order and reopen.

“It’s just time now, it’s just time,” Blondin told 7NEWS. “How is that, you know, you can go into people’s hair but you can’t work out, you can go to swimming pools but you can’t work out? You can do all these things but you can’t work out? It makes no sense.”

Blondin said he is taking his own social distancing precautions by allowing members to work out in one-hour time slots with 25 people allowed in the upstairs section of the facility and 25 people allowed downstairs.

“We have a leg room here [downstairs] and then everything else is upstairs,” Blondin said. “So as far as social distancing goes, there ya go.”

Blondin added that the gym floor will be disinfected but members should not wear a mask while working out.

“I do not need people passing out because they can’t breathe,” he said.

Town officials and the Oxford Police Department have already issued a verbal warning to Blondin, ordering him to cease operations immediately.

Baker’s office on Tuesday issued a statement on the matter.

“All businesses have a responsibility to follow the mandatory workplace safety standards, and enforcement, if necessary, will be handled by state and local agencies,” the statement read.

Blondin said he has no plans to close the gym any time soon, despite the threat of hefty fines for violating the state’s reopening plan.

“Whatever I have to do stand my ground, I’m not backing down,” he said.

Blondin could face a fine as early as Wednesday. If he doesn’t comply, Oxford health officials plan to file a temporary injunction in court to shut the gym down.

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