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Small town gym refusing to close now facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

Refusing to close at the behest of Gov. Tim Walz's executive order, a gym in southeast Minnesota is now facing legal action from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. 

Ellison announced the day before Thanksgiving that his office has filed a lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order to halt business at Plainview Wellness Center in Plainview. 

The fitness center announced Nov. 18 that it would not close at the direction of Walz, whose order to shut down indoor business at health facilities, bars, restaurants and other places of entertainment was aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. 

"The Plainview Wellness Center will not be closing!" the fitness center's Facebook page announced Nov. 18. "We ask that you please continue good sanitation practices, including cleaning all equipment when finished. Everyone is doing a GREAT Job and we appreciate you!!"

According to a release from Ellison's office, the club's management was warned about the requirements of the executive order, to which "management threatened to continue to operate and stay open to the public." 

“Governor Walz has made the tough but smart choice to dial back activities that data have shown spread COVID-19," Ellison said in the release. “I know these requirements are hard on folks — but fortunately, the vast majority of people and businesses affected are making that sacrifice and complying with the order, because they know we’re all responsible for stopping the spread of COVID. I’d much rather that everyone comply — but when it’s necessary to go to court to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect compliant businesses from unfair competition, I won’t hesitate to do so.

“I remind everyone that COVID-19 is deadly serious: it doesn’t care who you are, where you live, or how you contract it. More than 10 million Americans, including more than 275,000 Minnesotans, have already suffered from it, some with long-lasting consequences. More 250,000 Americans, including more than 3,000 Minnesotans and my own mother, have already died from it." 

The latest post on the club's Facebook page, as of this writing, is promoting a 90-minute spin class on Thanksgiving morning. 

According to state data, 48 outbreaks at Minnesota fitness centers have been contact traced for a total of 747 cases of COVID-19, though health officials have noted that the point of transmission in the community in a growing number of cases is unknown.

That means while there may be 747 "primary" cases linked to gyms and fitness centers, the number of secondary and tertiary infections that result from the original person carrying the infection could put the true number in the thousands.

The AG's office says it has had to enforce action on businesses refusing to follow executive orders three times during the pandemic, also having to work to gain compliance with more than 100 businesses. 

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