Gym owner says he plans on reopening, defying stay-at-home order

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The owner of several Sacramento-area gyms says he’ll reopen his businesses Friday despite the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Sean Covell, who owns three Fitness System franchises, made that announcement to his members this week. The Bill of Rights is displayed on the front door of his Land Park location.

“This is government overreach, and under the First, the Fifth and the 14th amendments of the United States Constitution that we have a constitutional right to do exactly what we’re doing,” Brian Chavez-Ochoa, Covell’s attorney, told FOX40.

Chavez-Ochoa, says his client has every right to reopen.

“We don’t believe that by doing what we’re doing, that we’re going to expose anybody to any greater risk than if they go to the supermarket,” Chavez-Ochoa said.

Covell also owns gyms in Lodi and West Sacramento and his attorney says all the businesses will be in compliance with CDC’s social distancing guidelines.

“They’re going to be cleaning the bathrooms and the facilities on an hourly basis and more frequently if necessary,” Chavez-Ochoa said.

Sacramento County Public Health officials say they do not recommend businesses open on Friday, as its stay-at-home order has been extended to May 22, but enforcement of that order will be up to individual law enforcement agencies.

A spokesperson for the Sacramento Police Department said officers will only be cracking down on house parties and sideshows, but enforcement efforts could expand as the stay-at-home order continues.

Chavez-Ochoa says if any of his clients are fined, arrested or forced to shut down, he will be seeking damages in federal court.

“If the government takes your property, it’s what’s called a regulatory taking, and they have to compensate you for it. Well, there’s been no compensation,” he said.

There could soon be more businesses trying to violate the order. Chavez-Ochoa says Covell is not his only client.

“We probably have close to 50 businesses in Lodi alone, and in that general area that are considering the same actions,” he said.

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