A gym owner filed a class action lawsuit against New York state Thursday arguing its business is “essential” and should be allowed to open as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The suit seeks to represent about 2,500 fitness business owners, said attorney James Mermigis, who spoke at a news conference flanked by gym owners Wednesday before filing the suit.
Mermigis said these businesses employ between 65,000 and 75,000 people across the state and that not being able to open means they have lost “hundreds of millions” in profits. The suit was filed in New York state court.
“We’re not asking the governor not to respond to the pandemic. We’re just asking for equal treatment that every other business is getting,” Mermigis said.
Mermigis said that because New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state has some of the lowest infection rates in the country, it’s time to open them.
“I think gyms are very essential for your health, mind, body and soul. We think they’re an important part of everyday living,” Mermigis.
Jason Conwall, a spokesperson for Cuomo, said his office has not reviewed the suit but that the actions taken by the governor were intended to, and did, curb the rise of infection in the state, and allowed the state to avoid subsequent spikes of infection.
“Reports show that infections are spiking in 38 states, and that officials in those states have been forced to reclose businesses and other parts of the economy that were opened too early,” Conwall said in a statement to CNN. “Every public opinion survey has shown an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support our re-opening approach. I understand some people aren’t happy – but better unhappy than sick or worse.”
The suit claims that the named plaintiff, Thousand Islands Fitness center, and other gyms in the state, have “conformed” their fitness centers to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as gyms in other states that have been allowed to reopen have done.