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Closure of gyms is 'arbitrary,' contradicts state order, lawyer says

A critical issue during Wednesday's hearing was why gyms should remain closed while retail and restaurants have been allowed to open
Credit: SLBJ
The House of Pain gym, with locations in Chesterfield and Maryland Heights, announced they will stay open, despite getting a cease and desist letter from St. Louis County.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis County's continued order to keep gyms closed is "arbitrary," particularly as it allowed a host of other businesses to reopen Monday, a lawyer for House of Pain gyms argued Wednesday in federal court.

Chris McDonough also claimed that the county's newest public health order contradicts a state of Missouri order, which allows gyms to reopen, though Gov. Mike Parson has said localities may have stricter rules.

Steven Capizzi, an attorney for the county, said the government's rules are critical to protect public safety as COVID-19 deaths continue to rise.

Their arguments came in a hearing to determine whether Judge Ronnie White should grant a temporary restraining order against House of Pain, which has kept its locations in Maryland Heights and Chesterfield open despite county rules that gyms remain closed. The county filed the case in state court last week, seeking the gyms' closures. McDonough filed to move the matter to federal court, which the county saw as a "delay" strategy.

A critical issue during Wednesday's hearing was why gyms should remain closed while retail and restaurants have been allowed to open.

"The virus is not smart enough, as far as anyone knows, to distinguish between a handle of a shopping cart touched by hundreds or thousands of people a day and a barbell that's disinfected before and after each use," McDonough said, adding that the gyms have done health checks, encouraged mask use and limited occupancy. He also said that if forced to close, House of Pain would lose $51,000 a month, which is "not sustainable."

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