Wilmington gym to close after governor removes ‘essential’ status from all businesses

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With phase one of reopening the state seemingly on the horizon, many businesses will start to reopen their doors.

But some may be closing again.

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On Monday, the owner of Muscleworx Fitness Jason Morgan applied to become an essential business after being cited in violation of Executive Order 121.

While waiting on approval or denial, Muscleworx could remain open as long as they follow the CDC guidelines.

“We have proven that we can operate under the CDC guidelines, so there is no reason for us to be shut down again,” Morgan said. “Other than to prevent us from earning an income, making a living wage, and being able to pay our rent and do what we need to do.”



But on Tuesday, Governor Cooper signed a new order, Executive Order 138, removing “essential” and “non-essential” status from all businesses.

Meaning some retail businesses could reopen while following CDC guidelines, but businesses like gyms are to remain closed.

“25 years I have worked to build this business and in 25 seconds this governor has jerked it away again,” Morgan said.

Morgan says after he opened the first time his attorney, Barry Henline, found Executive Orders 120 and 121 appeared to contradict themselves, allowing him to apply to become an essential business.

But now that’s been taken away.

The new executive order gives law enforcement the right to enforce the order and violators may face prosecution. 

“It could affect my lease agreement with my landlords until we take this to federal court. Which I have every intention of doing,” Morgan said.

He says new members will still be able to take advantage of their memberships when he is able to reopen.

“At this point in time they will be put on a stay and we will honor the remainder of the time on those memberships once we’re allowed to open back up,” he said.

Morgan says even though his doors are closing, he still plans to fight.

“We are in the process of signing, or going to federal court, to see if we can get a TRO on the enforcement of Executive Order 138,” he said. “I will fight this tooth and nail. Every legal aspect I can go down to keep my business open.”

Executive Order 138 orders health clubs, fitness centers, and gyms to remain closed in Section 5B.

The order goes into effect at 5pm on Friday, so Muscleworx will remain open until then.