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A New Jersey gym owner who is fed up with his state's extended lockdown order told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Wednesday that he plans to defy Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and reopen his doors next Monday, May 18.
"Governor Murphy has presented zero plans and I think my business partner and I have a plan to keep people safe," said Ian Smith, owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr.
"Our actions on Monday are going to be grounded in the ideals of civil disobedience."
"We think so far, this has been just a gross violation of constitutional rights," Smith added. "The 14th Amendment states that no state shall pass any law that infringes upon our rights as citizens, and we’ve been forced into our homes. Enough is enough.
"We got to the point where I’ve watched many businesses around me collapse, I’ve watched people lose their jobs and there’s no progress moving forward."
Smith said he has thought "long and hard" about his decision to reopen and decided that it would be done "from the heart with, not our best interest in mind, but what we feel is the greater good for ourselves, our community, and the state and nation as a whole."
The proprietor also told Carlson that he is "prepared for any and all consequences." Last week, Texas salon owner Shelley Luther was briefly jailed for defying a local stay-at-home order and opening her business. She was released after two days behind bars.
"Our actions on Monday are going to be grounded in the ideals of civil disobedience," Smith said. "What we intend to showcase is that we reject the premise of essential versus nonessential businesses. Anything that Walmart can do with hundreds, if not thousands, of people passing through the stores every day ... a small business, whether it be a restaurant, a gym, a hair salon, or anything else, can replicate those things ... and we plan to do that."
Smith says his gym has instituted a series of safety measures, including limiting access to members, all of whom will have their temperature taken at the door.
"The measures that we took are well above and beyond," Smith said. "We spread out the entire gym. Everything in the gym is more than six feet apart, including equipment. Every single person walking in the gym is going to have to follow instructions or leave."
"None of us are doubting the danger of the coronavirus," Smith emphasized. "What we are saying is that we can be prosperous and we can be cautious at the same time because if we choose one or the other, either situation is going to lead us down a dark road. "