Group of gyms seek temporary restraining order against Gov. Cooper’s executive order

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With no one allowed inside their fitness centers, gym owners are teaching classes online and outside.

On Wednesday, one group took it to the courtroom.

An attorney representing roughly 20 gyms in North Carolina filed a complaint in Wake County superior court, calling Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order closing gyms unconstitutional.

“It’s called the ‘fruits of your labor clause,'” said attorney Chuck Kitchen. “The constitution recognizes you have an absolute right to work. It cannot be removed by the state.”

Kitchen filed the motion for a temporary restraining order that asks that Cooper’s order not be enforced.

The complaint seeks injunctive relief from the court claiming not being allowed to practice their “ordinary occupation” presents a substantial economic burden. 

“Doctors, dentists, lawyers have to be licensed by the state,” said Kitchen. “But if you’re out opening a gym, the state has no ground to license you nor do they have any right to say when you can or cannot work.”

The complaint also cites closing gyms as something that prevents people with serious medical conditions from exercising as part of their therapy or prescribed by a doctor.

Kitchen said one of his client’s is a woman with multiple sclerosis and has been without treatment for two months.

“She’s saying ‘please get these gyms open. I need to go exercise like the doctor has prescribed me to do,'” said Kitchen.

Initially gyms were included as part of Phase Two of Cooper’s reopening plan.  

Gym owners said they were prepared to go with cleaning supplies and spaced-out equipment.

However, last week Cooper removed fitness centers from the plan, saying they present a great threat of spreading of COVID-19.  Health officials cited people in close proximity and not wearing masks while exercising.

“They have no problems keeping social distancing, cleaning equipment,” said Kitchen.

Kitchen’s motion is similar to the temporary restraining order a judge granted allowing North Carolina’s churches to reopen.

Kitchen is waiting for a court date to argue the complaint before a judge.

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