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Sacramento-area gym owner sues California to reopen clubs, arguing stay-at-home order is unconstitutional

The owner is seeking a temporary restraining order that would stop the state and county from enforcing the stay-at-home rules, allowing him to reopen his clubs.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Sean Covell, the owner of three Fitness Systems gyms in Sacramento, West Sacramento and Lodi, filed a lawsuit against California weeks after county officials sent him a letter prohibiting him from reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Covell and Best Supplement Guide, LLC are listed as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against California officials who are enforcing the stay-at-home orders. The lawsuit argues the state's orders are unconstitutional.

Covell's attorneys, Brian R. Chavez-Ochoa and Katherine Domenico, said in a press release that they are seeking a temporary restraining order that would stop the state from enforcing stay-at-home orders as long as up to 50 people are gathered and following CDC and county guidelines.

Last month, Covell said he would reopen all three of his locations on May 1 but later changed his mind after receiving a letter from San Joaquin County officials. 

San Joaquin County Counsel J. Mark Myles sent a letter to Covell, saying that it would be a misdemeanor charge that could be punishable by a fine or jail time if Covell decided to reopen up his gym. 

"The County of San Joaquin is prepared to pursue all available civil and criminal sanctions should you open your facility to the public," Myles said in the letter.

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Covell is not the first person to sue the state for it's stay-at-home order. Churches and gunshops have also filed lawsuits arguing that they provide essential services.

Neither state nor county health officials' guidelines did not list gyms as essential businesses. 

A federal judge in Sacramento ruled on May 5 that the Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi would not be allowed to continue in-person religious services. U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez said the stay-at-home orders were not unconstitutional.

California is currently in Phase 2 of its reopening process, which means some businesses are allowed to reopen with modifications. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference that the current phase would permit the reopening of bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods. 

Sacramento County's stay-at-home order is scheduled to end on May 22, while Yolo County's order is currently set to expire on May 31. San Joaquin's orders do not have an expiration date.  

If the lawsuit against the stay at home orders are unsuccessful, Phases 3 and 4 will allow for gyms to reopen, which could take months to reach. 

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