Eight Eastern Washington fitness centers have been fined a total of more than $77,000 for violating the state’s coronavirus closure order and potentially exposing employees to the virus, according to a Wednesday statement from the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
Most of the gyms are Anytime Fitness franchises owned by two separate operators, the statement said. It’s the second time in a month that one of the facilities, Anytime Fitness Selah, has been cited and fined.
One of the Anytime Fitness owners, Bradshaw Development Inc., faces three citations and the other owner, Fit City NW LLC, faces four.
According to the statement, all eight fitness centers had defied Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start proclamation, which prohibits businesses from operating if their county isn’t far enough along in the state’s four-phase reopening plan. Counties’ status under the plan is determined by COVID-19 activity there.
Bradshaw Development operates Anytime Fitness’s Selah location, along with two other gyms in Union Gap and Yakima, the statement said. Inspectors found all three gyms open on July 15, prompting L&I to fine Bradshaw Development $28,917 — on top of its $9,639 fine for the Selah gym violation in June.
Bradshaw Development is appealing the Selah citation, the statement said.
L&I also issued four citations to Fit City NW for operating Anytime Fitness gyms in Moxee, Wapato, Toppenish and Granger, after inspectors found them open July 14. Those fines total $38,556.
“These employers are putting their employees at unnecessary health risk by remaining open,” Anne Soiza, assistant director of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said in the statement. “The Safe Start order is in place to minimize the unnecessary spread of this deadly disease in our communities.”
L&I also fined and cited another company, Double Down CrossFit Reformation, for operating Double Down CrossFit in Yakima on June 24.
Before issuing the violations, the statement said, department officials warned the owners to comply with the state order and visited each site in person.
“Each citation is a ‘willful general’ violation, meaning the employer knew about the safety requirements, but refused to follow them,” the statement said.
All of the cited fitness centers are in Yakima County, one of the state’s major hot spots for COVID-19 infections, the statement said. When L&I inspected the facilities, the county was still in Phase 1 or a modified Phase 1, when gyms weren’t allowed to operate.
Along with the fitness centers, a Kennewick tanning salon, Golden Palm Tanning operated by Tri Cities Tan LLC, was fined for remaining open despite Inslee’s order.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued two gyms, one in Arlington and one in Puyallup, earlier this year for similar violations. The suits, filed in May in Pierce and Snohomish counties, argued that by flouting the governor’s orders, the gyms were endangering lives and gaining an unfair advantage over competitors that closed.