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Dr. Esther Choo speaks on the dangers of medical facilities reaching capacity if Oregonians do not heed new restrictions imposed by Gov. Brown’s two-week freeze statewide.

Wochit

One of Salem’s most prominent fitness centers says it will defy Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order that requires all gyms to close for two weeks starting Wednesday and instead will remain open. 

Courthouse Club Fitness, which has five locations across Salem, announced on its Facebook page Monday that “it would remain open Wednesday and in the days to follow.” 

Brown’s order listed gyms and fitness centers as being required to close to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spiked in recent weeks. 

The order is for a two-week “freeze” requiring some businesses and “faith-based organizations” to limit capacity. It requires others, including gyms, indoor recreational facilities, museums and others to close completely for the duration of the two weeks. 

Courthouse was not the only gym considering staying open. Landon Burningham, owner of Physiq Fitness, which has four locations in Salem, Keizer and Albany, said he considered staying open but ultimately decided to close while he looks at “outside the box ways” to reopen sooner than two weeks, he said in a Facebook post Tuesday night. 

Overall, owners of gyms and fitness centers said they were facing a wrenching decision and felt unfairly singled out by Brown’s order given no specific evidence has been presented linking gyms to COVID-19 outbreaks in Oregon. 

“These are among the hardest decisions we will make as a company,” Burningham said. “We believe exercise is medicine. We believe gyms are safe and when adhering to safety measures, gyms are and should be considered essential.” 

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Courthouse says it will stay open, Brown pushes back

Courthouse owner John Miller said in a statement that a second shutdown would push his business to the breaking point. 

“As a result of the harm done to our business from the first shutdown, we will not survive another closure,” Miller said. “This is a horrible position I find myself in, and it leaves me with only one choice. Courthouse Club Fitness will remain open Wednesday and the days to follow.” 

Courthouse Club Fitness on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 on Devonshire Court Northeast in Salem, Oregon. The fitness center has announced on it’s Facebook page that it will remain open during the two-week freeze mandated by Gov. Kate Brown to reduce the spread of COVID-19. (Photo: ABIGAIL DOLLINS / STATESMAN JOURNAL)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s spokeswoman said a Class C misdemeanor could be issued for any violation of the two-week freeze measures. Oregon State Police said they’d take an “education first approach” and would issue criminal citations “as a last resort.” 

“Our focus is on voluntary compliance,” said Liz Merah, Brown’s press secretary in an email. “It’s critical that Oregonians do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent further spikes in infections and hospitalizations. 

“If Oregonians and businesses don’t take these measures