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Valley businesses look for loopholes to defy latest order, governor's office 'expects' enforcement

Golfland Sunsplash
Posted at 10:07 PM, Jun 30, 2020

The governor's office is hoping the citations and fines levied against Mountainside Fitness send a message to others looking to defy the latest executive order. Some businesses though, are already exploiting what they view as loopholes.

Some fitness companies, like Orange Theory and Pure Barre, stayed open Tuesday by claiming they were "studios" or "boutiques" as opposed to typical gyms.

The governor's office meanwhile, says the executive order is clear and prohibits all workout facilities. A spokesperson also told ABC15 that Governor Ducey spoke with police chiefs and sheriffs Tuesday, telling them to be more aggressive and that he expects the order to be enforced.

It is unclear if that will actually happen though.

Phoenix police told ABC15 "we will continue to lead with education." In more than three months, the roughly 3,600 officers have issued zero citations.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said "Sheriff Penzone is a little conflicted on the enforcement of the Governor’s Executive Order because we don’t have specific guidance from the County Attorney’s Office as of yet. However, we will always take these contact opportunities to educate the community as much as possible."

At Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa the tables, slides and putting greens are all empty.

"It’s very, very eerily quiet," said General Manager Steve Carlston. "We do experience this every year, it’s just not usually early July, it’s early August."

Like thousands of Arizona businesses, Carlston says he was blindsided Monday when the governor shutdown his industry for 30 days, along with bars, clubs, movie theaters, and tubing.

"Our income is based on the water park being able to open. Without it we can’t stay afloat," said Carlston.

The manager was incredulous and upset because he said his park had been doing everything to stay in compliance, including limiting capacity and increasing cleaning procedures.

"We were keeping people safe. We’re bathing them in disinfectant, out in the hot sun, and we have somehow now been placed in this group that we don’t feel we belong to," said Carlston, who says he has had zero COVID-19 cases linked to the business and zero employees infected.

The waterpark is remaining closed for the time being, but the facility’s arcade and mini-golf course are both allowed open.

"We are in communication with the governor’s office currently," he said. 'We of course would always rather try and resolve these issues by working with the governor’s office and not against them."

Life Time Fitness is choosing the route of outright defiance.

Tuesday afternoon the company emailed their thousands of members and said "We will be reopening the entirety of our club offerings July 1."

Senator Kyrsten Sinema called it "absolutely irresponsible" and tweeted that she was canceling her membership to the Biltmore location.

"I could see this coming a mile away, because nothing has been done yet, and if Dad is not going to let down the hammer, you can get away with a lot of stuff," said Christopher Sylvester, a father from Goodyear and Life Time Fitness member.

Other companies also interpreted the executive order for their benefit. Purre Barre North Scottsdale wrote on Instagram: "We believe that our small "boutique" setting has allowed us to...abide by all guidelines."

"There’s an element of human nature. We are always resisting against authority, and I think you have to expect that,": said Sylvester.

A spokesperson for the governor said, "This is the law and we expect it to be followed."

He also said the order allows officers and "regulatory bodies" the ability to take immediate action - in the form of fines, citations, or revocation of licensing - without issuing any warnings.