South Florida gym owner posts bail after being arrested for violating coronavirus rules

PLANTATION, Fla. – A South Florida gym owner was released from jail early Tuesday morning, hours after he was arrested for allowing his gym members to choose whether or not they want to wear a face mask during workouts.

“Right now, I’m trusting that everything’s happening for a reason,” Michael Carnevale said. “I was there for maybe six or seven hours. My wife posted bond for me.”

Police officers showed up to Carnevale’s business, Fitness 1440 on West Broward Boulevard in Plantation, on Monday after someone reported that the 24-hour gym was violating Broward County’s emergency order requiring masks.

Carnevale was ordered to shut it down, but he refused. He spoke to Local 10 News after he was first given a notice to appear in court and before officers took him into custody and locked his business.

Carnevale said he believes the orders to wear face coverings during the coronavirus pandemic are intrusive.

“If this whole thing is really about health, this is where we are getting into some murky waters here because I don’t see how I can make my patrons wear a mask while on a treadmill, or while they are exercising,” Carnevale said.

Last week, Carnevale joined a raucous anti-mask rally and filed a lawsuit against the county over its mask ordinance.

Although public health officials say there is evidence face coverings help stop the spread of COVID-19, Carnevale isn’t buying that.

“We’ve lost perspective, we’ve lost common sense,” he said.

“Are you worried you’re putting people at risk?” Local 10′s Andrew Perez asked the gym owner on Monday.

“One hundred percent I am,” he responded. “I am super concerned about someone getting dizzy or fainting with a mask on while on a treadmill.”

Gym members showed up the facility Tuesday to find it closed.

“I don’t think it’s fair. They kept it clean. Everyone was social distancing,” Alyssa Ramirez said.

Ramirez said working out with a mask on is easier said than done.

“I know I’ll pass out. I can’t workout with a mask on,” she said. “You’re sweating, you’re breathing hard. How am I supposed to breathe through the mask?”

“What are you going to do now?” Local 10 News reporter Saira Anwer asked.

“Go for a run in the park,” Ramirez said. “That’s all I can do.”

Carnevale sent a lengthy statement to Local 10 News on Tuesday, which read, in part:

“I respectfully told police that we would not be closing our doors as we were already locked down for another 3 months. After being arrested on the spot, my wife was then threatened with arrest if she did not comply with a 24 hour shutdown.”

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