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Electricity and water shut off to Oxford gym that refused to close

Michelle Friend worked out by flashlight at the Prime Fitness gym, where water and electricity have been shut off. A judge has ordered the town of Oxford to shut down the gym, because it has defied a state order to stay closed.
Michelle Friend worked out by flashlight at the Prime Fitness gym, where water and electricity have been shut off. A judge has ordered the town of Oxford to shut down the gym, because it has defied a state order to stay closed.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Town officials have turned off the water and electricity to a gym in Oxford that has been operating in violation of the governor’s emergency shutdown order due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Reich, an attorney who serves as the town counsel for Oxford, said Thursday evening that the locks had been changed on Prime Fitness and Nutrition. The utilities that service the business were turned off Wednesday night to “protect public health and safety” during the pandemic.

“I can confirm that domestic water and electricity service have been discontinued at the building,” said Reich.

Dave Blondin, the owner of Prime Fitness and Nutrition, has been fined thousands of dollars since he opened his gym ahead of schedule.

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“He is subject to $300-a-day tickets and the court instituted $1,000-per-day fines,” said Reich.

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 opened on May 18 and has steadfastly refused to shut the facility down, despite hefty fines, warnings from local officials, and a court order to close.

On Tuesday Judge Susan E. Sullivan said the town could 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.

Matthew Friend worked out by the light of an open door at the Prime Fitness gym.
Matthew Friend worked out by the light of an open door at the Prime Fitness gym.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

“I find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendants have disobeyed a clear and unequivocal command of this court and I order the town, through its board of health and with the assistance of local police, to close the building at 1 North Oxford Court, North Oxford, MA (”the premises”) and secure the premises in such a manner so as to prevent reentry by the defendants and others,” Sullivan wrote in the decision issued Tuesday.

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Blondin could not immediately be reached for comment. He told reporters that he is staying open despite the water and power being cut off.

On Wednesday Blondin appeared in a video on Facebook and said a peaceful protest was planned to be held at the gym on Saturday to “fight for our rights.”

“Gym lives matter. Mental health matters. Black Lives Matter. Freedom of speech matters,” he said. “Whatever you prefer … We need the support from everyone.”

Globe Correspondent Stephanie Purifoy contributed to this report.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.