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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 9th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 28

Buellton gym faces closure for health order noncompliance

By Malea Martin

While local enforcement agencies have, for the most part, found success with voluntary compliance when enforcing COVID-19 health orders, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced on Sept. 2 that a gym in Buellton is being taken to court for refusing to halt indoor operations during the pandemic. 

Santa Barbara County announced that a Buellton-based gym is being taken to court for refusing to comply with public health orders.

According to a press release, an Aug. 31 hearing resulted in a temporary restraining order being issued against All Sport Fitness Center to cease all indoor operations. 

“All Sport was allowed numerous opportunities to comply with public health orders but failed to do so, despite warnings from the city of Buellton’s code inspector and the District Attorney’s Office,” the release stated. 

The temporary order will remain in effect until Sept. 11, when the court will decide whether it’s valid, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota told the Sun. If the court rules in favor of the order, it will become permanent and All Sport will have to remain closed until the health order on indoor gyms is lifted. 

Dave Henrey, founder and president of the fitness center, told the Sun that “the last thing I want to do is endanger anybody.” He believes that his gym is not posing a health risk to the community.

“Physical exercise actually increases your immune system, which would help you fight disease,” Henrey said. “We have 25 foot ceilings. We had maybe 12 people in there, in a 12,000-square-foot building. Everybody has plenty of space.”

He added that he moved the fitness equipment to be at least 6 feet apart, required face masks, and only allowed existing members to use the facility. 

But Cota said that, no matter how clean and careful a facility is, the rule remains that indoor gyms cannot operate under current health orders. 

“He could have everyone separated by 6 feet, he could have masks on them, he could have only five people in there,” Cota said. “It’s still a violation of the health order.”

Henrey said he invited the public health inspector to come see his facility multiple times. 

“They told me that they don’t have time to come visit,” he said. 

Cota said that the public health inspector only goes to see a facility if there is ambiguity over the health order violations in question. In this case, he said, there was no ambiguity.

“Indoor operations aren’t allowed, so he wasn’t going to convince them that it wasn’t an indoor operation,” Cota said. “They don’t have the ability to disagree with an order from the governor or from the local agencies. … Indoor is just prohibited, period, so there’s no ambiguity that could be resolved.”

Henrey said he believes a neighboring business owner complained about his business being in operation, and that without the complaint he wouldn’t be forced to close. He said he feels it’s unfair that only businesses who are complained about get enforced, and that the county is “just making an example” of him.

Cota could not provide additional information about how authorities were made aware of All Sport Fitness Center’s noncompliance. However, he said that enforcement agencies both investigate complaints they receive and also “do their own work” to find businesses that may be out of compliance with health orders.

Henrey said that if the temporary order becomes permanent on Sept. 11, the future of his business is in limbo.

“If I shut down beyond this next date of Sept. 11, then we’re done,” he said. “I will never apologize for trying to protect my family and trying to do what’s best for my family. Everybody should.” 

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