Gym snuck customers in side door despite coronavirus shutdown, cops say
POINT PLEASANT BOROUGH — Police say a gym owner tried to keep her business open in defiance of Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order shutting down many business, covering up the main entrance and instead letting customers in through a side door.
She's been charged with violating the governor's order.
Police said they had received numerous complaints about customers using Anytime Fitness on Route 88 and had warned owner Janice Lauria several times since March.
Officers on a compliance detail on Tuesday noticed people using a side door to get in and leaving after an hour, according to police. The people coming in and out were approached by police, and said Lauria would open the door for them, according to police.
The windows were covered with an opaque material that blocked views into the gym, police said.
Anytime Fitness is a franchise operation with 2,650 locations around the country, according to its website.
Anytime's Point Pleasant Borough Facebook page posted on April 16 that the business stopped all billing and would remain closed until the executive order was lifted. Under the order, gyms and fitness clubs are considered non-essential and must remain closed in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In an video interview by Wingman Planning posted April 22 to the page, Laurita said she was preparing to open to "anybody and everybody we are allowed to. We are willing to do social distancing. We are willing to do appointment only. We want to get people back."
She expressed concern about members who may have given up their workout regimens while the governor's stay-at-home order is in effect.
Lauria was charged with four violations of Murphy's executive order and disorderly conduct. She could be sentenced to six months in prison with a possible $1,000 fine.
Anytime Fitness's corporate office did not immediately respond to a message on Friday morning.