After Months Of Defying COVID-19 Health Order, Boulevard Fitness To Close
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Photo by Andrew Bowen
Boulevard Fitness, the University Heights gym that made national news for its refusal to shut down despite orders to do so from county health officials, is temporarily closing its doors.
In an email to gym members Wednesday, owner Shawn Gilbert said recent enforcement actions from the county health department and San Diego Police Department made its continued unlawful operations unsustainable.
"We have been fighting hard and doing everything we can to continue to keep our doors open for all of our members but due to current fiscal situations we have to temporary (sic) close our doors," the email read. "Unfortunately, the fines that we are looking at getting would prevent the business from being open on the other side of this closure."
The email to members came one day after the San Diego City Attorney's Office sent Gilbert a letter threatening legal action that could result in fines of up to $2,500 per day.
As of around 4 p.m. Wednesday, people were still working out in the gym, but those trying to enter were being turned away.
San Diego County was ordered to close indoor operations at all gyms in mid-June due to a spike in COVID-19 infections. While the vast majority of gyms and other businesses in the county have complied with those orders, Boulevard Fitness has stayed open.
County officials later moved to toughen up enforcement against rogue businesses, but it wasn't until Aug. 11 that SDPD issued a citation to the gym's owner.
Gilbert said the gym would continue to charge members their monthly fee during the closure unless they request that it be suspended "to ensure that there is a great gym available for you on the other side of this closure."
"We appreciate all of you who are willing and able to continue billing during our closure and recognize that not everyone has the financial means to do so," the email said. "Please note that September 1st billing is right around the corner and we may not be able to delay that one dependent on when we get the email."
San Diego County was removed from the state watch list last week due to improving COVID-19 figures, but it remains unclear whether the state will allow gyms to reopen for indoor activities. Outdoor gyms have been allowed, but not all gyms have had the space or budget to make that transition.
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