Tommy Trilivas thought he was finally getting what he has wanted for weeks: a date when he could reopen his two health facilities in North Jersey.

He was one of the organizers of a group of more than 100 gym owners who had agreed to open on June 1 against Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order closing non-essential businesses. He went ahead and opened Monday with social distancing protocols in place and said the Jefferson Township police officer who came to give him a warning for not complying with the order told him a date of June 15 was to be announced.

Then came the actual news from Murphy during Monday's briefing: restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining and non-essential retailers can reopen on June 15 while salons and barbershops can open on June 22.

"We're going to come back to you with a specific date soon on gyms and health clubs," Murphy said.

That was not the news Trilivas had been hoping to hear.

"Are you kidding me? You know this is all about Ian and Frank and all that went down where they defied orders and he had that personal vendetta against them trying to shut them down. This is all about power," Trilivas said, referring to Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr who opened in defiance of Murphy's executive order on May 18. They were shut down by a temporary restraining order on May 22.

Trilivas was ready to close again after hearing rumors of a June 15 reopen date. Now he's not so sure.

Trilivas said that Smith and Trumbetti are their only hope for a faster reopen.

Trivilas said their federal lawsuit against Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli is being heard in federal court on Wednesday.

"If a federal judge rules in their favor that they're allowed to be open, that basically just mandates all gyms to be able to be open," Trilivas said.

Trilivas is flabbergasted that salons, which he believes have more touching and close contact than in a gym, will be allowed to be open first.

A woman who identified herself only as Julia, the manager of Jersey Shore Fitness Shop in Bradley Beach, was disappointed at the decision.

"It's definately discouraging to not be given a set date. We're just really looking forward to opening back up and it's tough to not know when it's going to happen," she said.

The fitness center's outdoor classes have proven popular with members eager to return, she said. They've also been preparing for the day members can work indoors by stocking up on hospital-grade cleaning supplies, installing new heating and air conditioning units and touchless flush toilets and sinks.

"We have a huge garage door, we have tons of windows, we're just going to open the place up and we're just going to let all the fresh air come in," she said.

Jersey Shore Fitness Shop in Bradley Beach
Jersey Shore Fitness Shop in Bradley Beach (Bud McCormick)

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