(The Center Square) – Washington state is suing two gyms for remaining open despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders, the state’s attorney general said Tuesday.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office said that the two gyms are “endangering public health” by remaining open, adding that “they are engaging in an unfair business practice” since competing businesses are staying closed.
Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Health” order, which went into effect March 23, has been extended until at least May 31.
On Monday, Ferguson filed a lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court against Northwest Fitness Company, and another lawsuit in Snohomish County Superior Court against PA Fitness.
Ferguson’s office said it issued cease-and-desist letters to both businesses on Friday, giving them 48 hours to close.
“We understand the financial impact of Stay Home, Stay Health on small businesses, but that does not exempt you from the requirement to remain closed,” the letters sent to the businesses said. “The Stay Home, Stay Health order is necessary for public health. The COVID-19 virus spreads easily from person to person and the only way to control it, and save lives, is to maintain social distancing, including closing nonessential businesses. By keeping your business open, you are endangering the lives of your customers and your community.”
Ferguson’s office says the businesses are both subject to $2,000 penalties per violation for remaining open, citing the Consumer Protection Act.
““It is also unfair to your competitors for you to be open for business while they are complying with the Proclamation and making sacrifices for the benefit of the community,” the letters also read. “Opening your business when competing fitness centers have closed as required by law to protect the health of all Washingtonians gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors. In order to level the playing field and ensure the market is fair for all, you must close your doors.”