Gyms in Ohio Can Reopen Following Judge’s Ruling

By Paula Liu

A Lake County judge ruled on Wednesday that gyms and fitness clubs in Ohio cannot be fined or punished for reopening amid the CCP virus pandemic if they follow safety protocols, according to multiple reports.

Judge Eugene A. Lucci ruled that Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton had acted in “an impermissibly arbitrary, unreasonable, and oppressive manner and without any procedural safeguards,” according to WCPO. Lucci stated that any gym may open in Ohio as long as they abide by sanitary and social distancing guidelines.

Gym owners were given a preliminary injunction against Acton, and they therefore won’t suffer any repercussions for opening during Acton’s new order put in place on April 30 (pdf).

According to WKYC, a lawsuit was filed by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law on behalf of 35 different privately owned gyms against the Ohio Department of Health as well as Acton after she issued an order that keeps all non-essential businesses closed in Ohio—including gyms and fitness clubs. As a part of Acton’s order, any gym or fitness club that opens during the pandemic would be charged with second-degree misdemeanors.

The lawsuit sought to give gym owners a preliminary or permanent injunction—a judicial order restraining a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another—so that owners may reopen.

Maurice Thompson, the executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, said that “the Ohio Constitution requires greater scrutiny of vague and discriminatory enactments that trample Ohioans’ property rights. Ohio gyms are capable of operating safely and have the right to operate on equal terms with other Ohio businesses. Once gyms have opened, we are committed to ensuring that these arbitrary policies never recur.”

The basis of the lawsuit is that as a health director, Acton did not have power to actually force the gyms to close during this time, and her decision to carry out the order would pose an even greater threat to the health of Ohio citizens than allowing them to reopen.