Nearly 200 people have donated more than $12,000 to a gym owner in southern Minnesota who took his battle to court to keep his business open against an executive order issued by Gov. Tim Walz aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Plainview Wellness Center in the southeastern Minnesota town of Plainview ultimately closed its doors on Wednesday after a district court judge issued a temporary injunction forcing owner Brandon Reiter to shut down until the executive order expires on Dec. 18.
Reiter, described in the online crowdfunding campaign as an eight-year Army veteran, has received support from just shy of 200 people who have donated $12,894 (as of this writing). The money is being raised to help combat the financial toll the shutdown creates and to help pay for court costs.
Reiter refused to close the gym when Walz issued the executive order in November, with the fundraising campaign saying he was "merely trying to save his life's dream of running a gym and provide the necessities of life for himself."
The following statement was issued on the fitness center's Facebook page after the judge's decision was made Wednesday.
"It is with a heavy heart that I am saying to everyone that the gym is temporarily closed! I lost the case in court. I want to thank everyone for your continued support through all this. I will Not stop fighting.
"When people fear the government you have tyranny. When the government fears the people you have Liberty!
"That is my end goal. Thank you all Very much for your understanding."
The judge's decision was the result of a lawsuit filed against Reiter and the Plainview Wellness Center by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who on Wednesday announced that he is "glad the court recognized the seriousness of the pandemic and the firm legal foundation of the state’s efforts to halt the spread of it."
The latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health still shows gyms and fitness centers linked to 47 COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the state, resulting in a total of 734 confirmed cases of the disease.