MOLINE, Illinois — A Moline gym owner on Tuesday opened for group training in violation of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order in hopes of a confrontation with law enforcement.
"Somebody call the authorities," said Chris Ninotta, owner-operator of Omni Strength in a Facebook Live video. He said his small business has been straining under the shutdown.
"I complied, and I'm not anymore," he said.
On Monday Moline Police served Ninotta with a cease and desist order that mandated he stop operating his gym or face the loss of his business license, an order of closure or civil and/or criminal liability.
Also on Monday, the governor clarified his stance on charging businesses with a misdemeanor for opening early.
"Under the current Illinois Department of Public Health act, when a business violates IDPH rules and puts public health at risk, the business has committed a class A misdemeanor, that's the existing law today in fact last week and last year. Under existing law, law enforcement can issue a citation to the business," Governor Pritzker said.
Ripping the cease and desist letter in two, Ninotta called Pritzker "unconstitutional" and "un-American."
"Just because something is legal or illegal doesn't make it right or wrong," Ninotta said. "And I believe people should stay in their lane and if I can practice safe social distancing through this, let me be an adult about it and handle it."
Moline Police did not respond to the gym or bust up the group workout. The governor has said the first option for law enforcement and state's attorneys across the state is communication and education to encourage compliance with the public health order.