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St. Louis County gym defying stay-at-home restrictions ordered to close its doors

A federal judge said House of Pain must close its two locations in Maryland Heights and Chesterfield

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Louis County gym that defied stay-at-home orders is being told to close its doors – and keep track of everyone who worked out at the locations over the last several weeks.

A federal judge said House of Pain must close its two locations in Maryland Heights and Chesterfield.

The gym’s owner, Joe Corbett, decided to reopen when the state of Missouri loosened stay-at-home restrictions on May 4, but St. Louis County’s order was still in place.

The county filed a temporary restraining order to shut down the non-compliant locations. House of Pain then sued back, saying gyms in other parts of the state could reopen under Governor Mike Parson’s plan.

"What is at issue, in this case, is that the actions of the Defendants, even if taken in good faith initially, have gone too far and are needlessly infringing upon some of our citizens’ most essential freedoms and liberties which are enshrined in our Constitution," the lawsuit stated.

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The judge handed down a decision Friday, granting the county’s temporary restraining order request and ordering House of Pain to close its St. Louis County locations.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the Court concludes that Defendants’ continued operation of their gyms in this manner endangers the public health, safety, and welfare, and constitutes an unreasonable and unlawful use of Defendants’ property,” the court’s order reads, adding that keeping the gyms open increases the risk of members getting the virus and unknowingly spreading it in the community.

You can read the court's full ruling here.

Attorney Chris McDonough, who represents the gym and its owner, shared the following statement with 5 On Your Side.

“My client is obviously disappointed with the temporary restraining order entered by the federal court today. We expect that ultimately we, and more importantly, the Constitution will prevail. My client, of course, respects the court’s authority to enter this temporary order and will immediately comply with it. Unfortunately, the reality is that this small business may not survive this. My client, like many other businesses in St. Louis County, remains hopeful that the State will intervene in an appropriate manner to clarify that St. Louis County is not free to order gyms closed when the State’s order permits them to open.”

In court documents, Corbett said if the gyms are shut down, the gross revenue loss in a projected month is about $45,000.

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St. Louis County also wanted House of Pain to pay to have each person who worked out at the facilities since May 4 tested for COVID-19. The court ruled the gym needs to keep a list of everyone who walked through the doors since May 4, but said the county didn’t give medical reasons to have asymptomatic patrons tested. If the county can prove that anyone who worked out at the gym during that time tested positive, then the court will reconsider the request.

On Friday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the county has set June 15 as a target date for reopening gyms.

“While June 15 remains a target, we will continue to watch the trends of testing, hospital admissions as we continue consider more openings in St. Louis County,” he said.

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