Officers arrest gym owner for refusing to force members to wear face masks during workouts

PLANTATION, Fla. – Michael Carnevale was contesting the authorities’ decision to close his gym on Monday when he was arrested. He said he was allowing his members to choose whether or not they should wear a face mask during workouts. The officers closed their business.

Carnevale, owner of Fitness 1440, a 24-hour gym at 7067-A W. Broward Blvd. in Plantation, is among business owners who believe that orders to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic are intrusive.

“If this is all really about health, this is where we are getting into some murky waters because I don’t see how I can get my clients to wear a mask while on a treadmill or while exercising,” Carnevale said. .

Authorities say the orders are part of an effort to stem the spread of the disease. Some of the gym members may not know they are spreading the disease. And in doing so, authorities believe they are risking the lives of the most vulnerable residents.

“I don’t feel like closing the facilities because my intuition tells me this is wrong,” said Carnevale.

Carnavale is supported by Chris Nelson, who started the Reopen Florida group, and Florida House Representative Anthony Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills-based attorney who has been challenging constitutionality of mandates. of the facial mask in the state.


Officials took a while to order facial masks as the disease spread. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization offered conflicting advice at first.

According to the CDC, the disease is spread primarily from person to person through respiratory drops when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement on July 14. “Cloth covers are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread.”

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency in Florida on March 1. Broward County declared a local state of emergency on March 10. The WHO declared a pandemic on March 11. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13.

Broward County issued the face mask mandate on April 10.


The problem with gyms is that there could be members who don’t know they are infected. Epidemiologist data indicates that most infected people experience mild or no symptoms.

This increases the risk for people who are vulnerable because they live with underlying health conditions and are more likely to die from the disease.

According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 5,930 people died from COVID-19 in Florida, including 1,404 in Miami-Dade and 607 in Broward. It is unclear whether contact trackers in South Florida have linked any of these deaths to gyms or fitness centers.

Officers said they responded to the Carnevale gym because they received a 311 complaint from a Broward County resident. Carnevale said he is concerned that one of his gym members is dizzy or passed out with a face mask while on a treadmill.

“We have lost perspective,” Carnevale said. “We have lost common sense.”

Sabatini said the Broward County ordinance requiring residents to wear face masks at home violates the Fourth Amendment, the constitutional protection against unreasonable government searches and seizures.

“The order of the face mask violates various parts of the Florida constitution,” Sabatini said recently. “It violates the privacy clause, one of the strongest privacy clauses in the country. Violates due process. “


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