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.


Courthouse Club Fitness went forward with its promise to defy Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order for gyms to close on Wednesday, with all five of its locations open across Salem and Keizer. 

Flex Fitness, a family-owned gym on Commercial Street, also stayed open. 

Both gyms said they wouldn’t survive the economic hit of a second shutdown, but they could also end up facing major fines.  

Brown’s order required all gym and fitness centers to close as part of a two-week “freeze” aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which has spiked in recent weeks. 

Any business willfully staying open, in defiance of the order, could face a minimum fine of $8,900 and maximum penalty of $126,749, according to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which enforces compliance. 

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Staying open could also bring a Class C misdemeanor charge. 

The owners of Courthouse and Flex Fitness both said they wouldn’t make it through the freeze. 

“As a result of the harm done to our business from the initial COVID-19 shutdown, we cannot make the decision to close down our facility,” Flex Fitness wrote on its Facebook page. “We simply will not survive. We will remain open for business on Wednesday and the days to follow.” 

Both gyms have stressed being in accordance with mandates such as social distancing, wearing masks and rigorous sanitation practices. Both said they’d reduce capacity by 50 percent.

“Just because we’re drawing a line doesn’t mean we’re throwing everything out the window in terms of health and safety,” Courthouse vice president Drew Baker told the Statesman Journal. “We plan to run all our programs normally and adjust to any changes based on demand. We’ll see what the reaction looks like and go from there.” 

Gyms and fitness centers are not the only places required to close during the freeze. The order requires 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 — if not longer.  

Related: Gyms across Oregon struggle to navigate second shutdown, stay in business

Gov. Brown executive orders: Oregon ‘freeze’ enforceable by law with Gov. Brown’s executive order

Penalties for staying open could get steep

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 50 citations have been issued to businesses for not complying with parts of the pandemic orders by OSHA, which is designed to protect employees. 

The fines have typically ranged from $100 to $2,000 for lower-level citations, to $8,900 to $14,000 for “willful violations.” 

A willful violation includes keeping a business open after it’s been ordered to close, OSHA said. The highest citation so far was handed out to Salem’s Glamour Salon, which was fined $14,000 in May for remaining open.

“We know