ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — An Orchard Park gym owner says he has been fined following an incident that happened Friday night at his gym.
A video went viral over the weekend after Erie County Sheriff's deputies and sanitarians from the Erie County Department of Health were shown getting escorted out of the gym. According to a blog post and video by Tim Walton, over 100 Buffalo area business owners were at the gym to brainstorm ways to get through the Orange Zone lockdown restrictions when the sanitarians and deputies showed up.
Robby Dinero, owner of Athletes Unleashed on California Road in Orchard Park, told 2 On Your Side on Saturday that those in attendance told the deputies and sanitarians that they were not welcome in the gym and eventually forced them out of the building.
Now four days later, Dinero says he has been fined $15,000. He says there were about 50 people there at the time; the governor's executive order says no more than 10 people should gather.
The fine is also for allowing people to enter without masks.
Dinero said he plans to open his gym, despite orders to remain closed under the Orange Zone.
"My business is open Monday morning, absolutely, in absolute clear, utter defiance of the governor and Mr. Poloncarz," Dinero said.
He ripped up the letter with the county fine on FOX News. "I am not paying the fine," he said.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw posted on his official Twitter page that he has started a GoFundMe for Dinero to help pay the fine. Mychajliw also released a statement saying in part
“Mark Poloncarz crossed a line. Punitively punishing a small business owner that served our country is despicable. People are fed up. The resistance against power hungry politicians destroying businesses with arbitrary COVID rules they make up as they go along has begun."
A spokesperson for the Erie County Department of Health told 2 On Your Side the department "delivered a stipulation and fine to that facility" on Tuesday.
The Erie County Department of Health provided the following statement on Wednesday:
On Tuesday, November 24, a public health sanitarian from the ECDOH Division of Environmental Health delivered a stipulation document to Athletes Unleashed. An individual who identified himself as the owner refused to accept delivery, and the document was taped to the front door of the business.
The stipulation charged this facility with violations of New York State Public Health Law, New York State Rules and Regulations, Executive Orders And New York State Sanitary Code, 10 NYCRR Subparts 66-3.3(a) and (d). Those charges were related to a non-essential gathering of approximately 40 people on November 20, 2020 that was verified by an ECDOH inspection.
At the time of the inspection on November 20, 2020, the facility address was located within a NYS Cluster Action Initiative Orange Zone, as defined by NYS Executive Order 202.68, with a non-essential gathering limit of 10 persons. Further, during a non-essential gathering, the business owner, building owner and those otherwise authorized on their behalf, or otherwise authorized to use the building did not deny entry to attendees who were not wearing a face covering, as verified by an ECDOH inspection.
Under Sections 12 and 206 of the New York State Public Health Law as modified by NYS Governor Order 202.68, any individual who encourages, promotes or organizes a non-essential gathering shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $15,000 per day. The stipulation included notice of a civil penalty in the amount of $15,000 to be paid by December 19, 2020.