An Oceanside gym owner was cited by police after he attempted to reopen his business Sunday despite a San Diego County public health order that has kept gyms closed for months to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Lou Uridel, the owner of Metroflex Gym located on Horne Street, was cited for violating the county's public health order that forced gyms to close on March 18 and for obstructing and delaying a police officer, the Oceanside Police Department said.
Despite, he plans to open up his gym again on Wednesday, and one Oceanside City Council member plans to be by his side.
Uridel first opened his doors on Friday, after being shut down for two months. He was met by Oceanside Police officers who warned him being open was in violation of the San Diego County public health order.
“My motivation was always to put food on the table for my family, to support my members and open the business of my dream,” Uridel told NBC 7 after being cited.
On Sunday, days after his first contact with police, officers returned to the business and cited the gym owner because he had not ceased operations.
The same day, before the gym owner was cited, Oceanside City Council Member Christopher Rodriguez published a letter online that claimed the state of California and San Diego County "have been without a plan from the beginning" and calling on all businesses to reopen despite the public health order.
“We’re at a point, at a breaking point now if businesses do not open they’re going to be closed permanently,” said Rodriguez who represents Oceanside City Council's District 2.
Uridel said he plans to open up again on Wednesday and Rodriguez said he's backing this up and will be there if Uridel or any other business gets cited or arrested.
“If you get a citation I want to be there if I can,” said Rodriguez. “If you get arrested, I’ll raise my hand I’ll be the first to get arrested.”
On Monday, supporters of Metroflex Gym stood alongside Uridel as the owner shared why he wants to get his gym back up and running with NBC 7.
“We’ve had members that are suicidal, members that are former drug addicts, that have gone through extreme health conditions and also off-duty veterans with PTSD,” Uridel said. “This is their form of therapy and they can’t get this at a garage gym or going on a trail.”
Rodriguez is asking the City of Oceanside to not enforce the public health order.
Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss released a statement separating the city's official stance from Rodriguez's "personal views."
"I would like to remind businesses that they are subject to the San Diego County Health Officer's Orders regarding business operations," Weiss wrote. "Neither the City Council, nor individual Councilmembers have the authority to direct any business to violate the County Orders."
Weiss also said Oceanside police will ensure that the Oceanside business community follows the public health orders.