A Worcester County Superior Court judge has ordered the town of Oxford to shut down a gym that has continued to operate while other fitness centers across the state remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
David Blondin, 30, the owner of Prime Fitness and Nutrition, has been fined thousands of dollars since he opened his gym ahead of schedule and has steadfastly refused to back down, despite warnings from local officials and a court order to close. Under the state’s reopening plan, gyms and fitness studios aren’t allowed to reopen until Phase 3, which will start no sooner than June 29. But Blondin went ahead and opened May 18.
On Tuesday Judge Susan E. Sullivan said the town may take whatever measures necessary — including changing the locks, boarding up the building, and turning off the utilities — to close the gym and secure the premises. Blondin is also being fined $1,000 a day and he must pay the town’s costs and attorneys’ fees.
Jeffrey Blake, an attorney representing Oxford, said at the status hearing that was held Tuesday that Blondin was putting public health at risk by keeping his gym open.
“This is a serious, serious health concern,” Blake said. “This is real. We have shut the world down to stop the spread of this.”
More than 7,600 people have died from the coronavirus in Massachusetts.
A status conference has been scheduled for June 30.
On the first day Blondin reopened, the town’s health inspector stopped by and gave him a verbal warning. The next day, town officials came back and gave him a written citation. Then they started issuing fines, and they took him to court.
Sullivan previously ordered Blondin to stop operating his gym on June 5.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched to help Blondin pay the fines and legal fees. As of Tuesday, contributions totaled $11,321.
After Tuesday’s court hearing, Blondin said he planned to discuss with his attorney on how to proceed. “I have to talk to my lawyer . . . and we’ll see what happens,” Blondin said in a telephone interview.