Arizona coronavirus enforcement actions rare

Scottsdale's Self Made Training Facility
Posted at 6:58 PM, Dec 11, 2020

PHOENIX — A Valley gym made changes this week after the state health department took its owner to court for ignoring the governor's COVID-19 executive orders.

In a rare move this week, a Maricopa County judge issued a temporary restraining order against Scottsdale's Self Made Training Facility.

The court forced the gym to close until health and sanitation improvements were made and the owner filed an attestation with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

ADHS moved to the courtroom after an administrative closure notice in November seemed ineffective.

Wednesday, a lawyer for the business informed the judge the requirements were met.

Thursday, the Self Made Training Facility's doors had a message recommending face coverings and hand sanitizing. Another message on the doors complained about government overreach.

Since the pandemic began, ADHS sought court orders against two businesses. The agency also issued administrative closures against 12 businesses for coronavirus failures.

The state health director says more stringent enforcement is coming.

"It's a 'two strikes - you're closed' kind of system," said Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona's state health director. "This was the first week. We had four establishments that were given a first-strike notice."

People who fail to follow government rules for masks, business occupancy limits, and other pandemic restrictions can be criminally charged with misdemeanors. Cases are rare. Scottsdale had 22 court cases. Tempe had six. Phoenix had none.

Scottsdale police issued more than 30 misdemeanor citations, in seven cases against Jeff Mahaffey the owner of the Self Made Training Facility. During at least one police visit last summer, the owner indicated he could not afford to close his business again. He indicated his losses were $50,000 for every month of closure.

ABC15 reached out to Mahaffey's attorney, Robert Brown, about the court case. He responded in short text that Self Made was running a "toy drive to help disadvantaged kids." He added, "Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the facility," but "be sure to wear a mask when inside."

A trainer at the gym also created a GoFundMe webpage last week for Mahaffey's legal defense fund.