Closing for good or defy orders? Small businesses make difficult choice during COVID-19 pandemic

Monday, May 18, 2020
Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey vows to open in defiance of shutdown order
Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey has vowed to open on Monday in defiance of Governor Phil Murphy's shutdown order.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- While the gradual reopening of businesses are occurring in the era of COVID-19 across the Delaware Valley, for some establishments, it's not happening fast enough and it's leading to permanent closures.

The latest to fall: Mad River Bar and Grille in Philadelphia's Manayunk section.

"Welp. With a heavy heart, it's time to announce the ol' Riv won't make it thru this mess (I truly hope this doesn't start a string of these announcements," wrote Mad River's general manager Jamie Powell on Facebook.

For regulars, it's a crushing blow. Some left flowers outside, others were seen taking photos.

"I'm surprised actually that this went down because yeah, it's a bigger establishment," said Jeff Felford of Manayunk.

"There is no real reason to come to this end of town for us anymore," added boyfriend, Mark Savidge.


The coronavirus shutdown is impacting Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey. The owners reopened Monday against the governor's orders.

"We truly believe that if we don't do this, in the end, we will have zero rights and no say in what happens," said Frank Trumbetti, the co-owner of the gym.

RELATED: Supporters gather outside of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey Monday prior to reopening despite shutdown order

Trumbetti posted the video following the staff's decision to defy state orders and risk arrests by opening the gym's doors.

It's a choice that garnered national media attention.

On Sunday, Action News was granted access inside the gym for a look at the social distancing measures and precautions the owners say they are taking.

Taped off workout stations, bottles of disinfectant and signage both in and outside the members-only gym are just some of the changes.

Trumbetti, who recently lost a loved to COVID-19, said the decision is certainly not about financial gain.

Police were also seen setting up for expected large protests in favor of the gym's reopening.

"The government has failed at protecting our rights and failed at protecting our health. We are proposing an organized peaceful reopening of the state, not just our business, "Trumbetti said in the video.


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