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.
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.”
COVID-19 pandemic: Coronavirus cases surge in Oregon
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
A group of Quebec fitness centre owners says its members are no longer planning to open Thursday in defiance of the government’s lockdown orders.
The owners released a statement today calling on their clients to instead join them in a series of protests outside their gyms and fitness studios on Thursday.
On Monday, a coalition of more than 250 gym owners threatened to open their doors this week, prompting a warning from Premier Francois Legault that they and their clients would be fined.
This week Legault extended lockdown orders across regions under the government’s highest pandemic-alert levels – including Montreal and Quebec City – from Oct. 28 to Nov. 23.
Bars, restaurant dining areas, gyms and entertainment venues have been ordered to close.
The gym owners say their protests on Thursday will conform to the provincial COVID-19 health regulations.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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JERUSALEM—As Israel eases its second nationwide lockdown, a revolt among ultra-Orthodox Jews against public health guidelines is complicating efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak.
Across Israel, schools and most businesses are closed. People are required to wear masks in public, and outdoor gatherings over 20 people are banned. Police and city inspectors patrol the streets, handing out fines to rule breakers. Signs on highway banners and city billboards remind people to wear masks and social distance.
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But on a bright autumn morning in Jerusalem’s ultraorthodox stronghold of Mea Shearim, no police patrolled the narrow alleyways closed off behind stone walls. Thousands of children crowded into schools, and men, young and old, returned to their religious seminaries known as yeshivas, where they study all day. The only common sign in the neighborhood that mentions coronavirus is an advertisement for free ginger to boost the immune system.
“After eight months of not doing what we’re told to do by my government, we’re still alive and healthy, so there’s no reason to close the Torah institutes,” said one ultraorthodox man in his 20s who was chatting outside a yeshiva.
A deep distrust of the government and a desire to preserve a way of life is fueling a broad—but not uniform—backlash against government efforts to impose public health guidelines on the ultraorthodox community. Many members of the community also suspect the virus isn’t so dangerous as to disrupt the rhythms of their insular and conservative communities, in which many men study religion all day rather than work and gather thrice daily for collective prayers.
“When the number of deaths isn’t as large as has been purported, the community prefers slight physical damage rather than a massive spiritual blow,” says Rabbi Pinchas Zaltzman, a religious judge in the ultraorthodox city of Bnei Brak.
The ultraorthodox community hasn’t been immune from the virus that causes Covid-19. While the ultraorthodox make up around 12.5% of the population, they have accounted for up to 65% of infections nationwide in the first wave in the spring and more than 40% in the current second wave, according to a study based on the Ministry of Health data by Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science based in central Israel. At the same time, the death rate per 1,000 individuals in the ultraorthodox sector is about half the rest of the country, largely because government figures show it is a much younger population.
After four weeks of a second nationwide lockdown, Israel was able to reduce the infection rate from more than 8,000 new cases a day to under 1,500. Now Israeli health officials fear the ultraorthodox decision to prematurely open the schools and religious seminaries could lead to yet another lockdown.
A small victory in Miami on Friday could shift the power in favor of businesses who are fighting against local COVID-19 restrictions in South Florida.
Tootsie’s strip club in Miami Gardens won in a civil lawsuit against Miami-Dade County, and will be able to stay open past the county’s coronavirus curfew, which the judge called “illegal.”
The curfew has been in place nearly three months to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms at midnight, which is when clubs typically open. In a number of cases, establishments such as Tootsie’s that stayed open were fined and forced to shut down at midnight.
The situation has been similar in Broward. Earlier this month, nightclub owners demanded answers from Broward Mayor Dale Holness, who said businesses would still have to shut down at 11 p.m. even after Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed South Florida into a Phase 2 reopening.
In Miami-Dade, Judge Beatrice Butchko ruled that Tootsie’s can operate all night because of DeSantis’ statewide decree, which effectively snatched power from local governments to enforce COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.
DeSantis’ order allowed counties and cities to set capacity limits for restaurants, but kept local governments from issuing rules that kept people from working.
“The Miami-Dade curfew orders conflict with [DeSantis’ executive order] because they prohibit Tootsie’s from operating; they prohibit employees and contractors from working; and they reduce capacity to zero for the entire time subject to the curfew,” Butchko wrote in the ruling.
Sports radio host Andy Slater broke the news that Tootsie’s won the suit.
Miami-Dade and Broward imposed the curfews in July to crack down on late-night parties in bars, streets and in private homes. The curfews also affected restaurants that had to close their dining rooms early.
Sun Sentinel staff writer Rafael Olmeda contributed to this report.
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