Ohio Court Rules Department of Health Can’t Punish Gyms that Opened During Lockdown

Cleveland19 reports a Lake County Court of Common Pleas judge ruled against Dr. Amy Acton and the Ohio Department of Health in a lawsuit filed by more than two dozen gyms that were ordered to close as part of the statewide stay-at-home directive.

Court records from May 20 show Judge Eugene Lucci granted a preliminary injunction blocking state and county health officials from taking any action against fitness centers that violate the safety restrictions by reopening.

The ruling states that Dr. Acton, the Lake County General Health District, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and the Ohio Attorney General are “enjoined,” or prohibited from imposing any penalties for non-compliance of the Department of Health director’s order, given that they operate in compliance with safety regulations.

The lawsuit, filed by 1851 Center for Constitution law on behalf of Rock House Fitness Inc, and 34 other gyms, was presented on May 8 to the Lake County Court of Common Pleas judge after the statewide stay-at-home and “Stay Safe Ohio” orders restricted certain non-essential businesses from operating as a precautionary measure to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Constitutions are written to prevent governments from arbitrarily interfering in citizens’ lives and businesses. On that front, the call to action is clear. The Governor and health director may no longer impose their own closures and regulations and write their own criminal penalties to enforce those regulations and closures,” explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson.

The gyms listed on the lawsuit were seeking the ability to reopen immediately, with added safety measures in place, while also asking for compensation for money lost during the shutdown.

Under Gov. Mike DeWine’s Responsible Restart Ohio strategy, Ohio’s gyms were scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, May 26.