Tim Cassell, co-owner of Pinnacle Performance Ohio, reopened his gym near downtown Columbus after a Lakewood judge sided with local fitness centers challenging the state's closures.
Gyms and fitness centers were scheduled to reopen on May 26, under a phased reopening plan detailed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
“We’ve been closed for over two months,” Cassell says. “Six days is important to us. Six more days allows us more clients to come in to help us pay our rent, pay our utilities, pay our employees.”
Lake County Judge Eugene Lucci slammed the March 22 order from Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton shutting down gyms and fitness centers as nonessential businesses during the pandemic. In his ruling Wednesday, Lucci called it an arbitrary and "oppressive" decision.
Cassell says that was unfair to businesses like his who did not receive money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Not everybody, not every business got PPP,” Cassell says. “Many, many of us did not, and it just depends on how many businesses and lives you want to impact that way.”
Cassell opened his gym in July 2019, and says he had about 75 clients who used the gym.
Although the judge's decision only affects businesses in Lake County, attorneys for gym owners say it has wider implications.
Cassell says he will adhere to recommended safety measures. Ironically, Cassell was on the governor’s task force deciding how to reopen gyms safely.
“You can see that all of our business is spaced out,” Cassell says. “You’ll see that there’s lines on the floor that give the designation for the social distancing. All of our employees wear masks when interacting with clients.”
Cassell says if new cases of the coronavirus spike, he will follow the governor’s order.
“We were closed when he asked us to close the first time,” Cassell says. “If he asks us to close again, we will do that.”