Lincoln Park gym forced to close, patrons cited after defying governor's orders

After a local reporter asked about a Lincoln Park gym that was still open, police made an appearance. Raise the Bar (RTB) gym was defying an order from the governor to remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They got a warning they'd be ticketed and left.

Later in the week on Wednesday, officers showed up and found they were still open. So violations were issued, but not just to management, but the patrons of the gym as well.

"They issued violations to the employees that were on-site and to the participants - the people that were inside the gym," said Thomas Karnes, Mayor of Lincoln Park.

According to Karnes, at least 20 people were cited at the gym, located on Fort Street. A grainy video given to FOX 2 from a rep of RTB Gym which was filmed by a customer shows the time when police arrived.

The chief of police never responded to a request for comment, however, the mayor did offer some commentary.

"Tickets are invitations to court, to go in and have your side heard," Karnes said, "so this is something we came in, observed what was being done, thought it was wrong, issued the citations for that. Obviously then it goes to court and they can have their day in court."

At least one resident who visits the gym every once in a blue moon said it was irresponsible for the facility to be open.

"It was, a lot of people open up, it goes over their heads - it's about money," said Willie Hill. "M-O-N-E-Y."

Gyms and movie theaters appeared to be next on the docket to be reopened in Michigan. But the coronavirus had other plans that derailed what was meant to be the next step in Michigan's re-engagement of its economy. 

Gyms themselves were even ordered to reopen by a judge that found keeping them closed offered little benefit to slowing the spread of the virus when much of the rest of the state's industries had reopened. But a day before the restriction was lifted, an appeals court sided with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The owner of the gym declined to comment on the incident. But an attorney for RTB issued a statement saying: 

"Raise the Bar Gym (RTB) understands and respects that the LPPD has a job to do and believe they were complying with the governor's executive order that non-essential business be closed. However, we are of the opinion that RTB and other gym's are an essential business"

"Our way of looking at it is the governor issued these orders. We do not have anything against gyms, we don't have anything against any of the businesses that are forced to be closed during this pandemic," said Karnes.