Atilis Gym Offering Free Membership To Customers Who Refuse COVID Vaccine, Despite Guidance From New Jersey Officials

BELMAWR, N.J. (CBSNewYork/CBSPhilly) — A New Jersey gym at the center of controversy throughout the coronavirus pandemic is now offering a freebie to anyone who does not receive the COVID vaccine.

Atilis Gym, in Bellmawr, initially made headlines last year when it repeatedly defied Gov. Phil Murphy’s shutdown order.

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Gym owner Ian Smith posted on Twitter that the gym will be offering free memberships to anyone who doesn’t get the vaccine after learning about Krispy Kreme’s decision to give free doughnuts to anyone who receives the shots.

“In light of Krispy Kreme giving free donuts for receiving the CVD [sic] shot, here at The Atilis Gym we are giving out free memberships to all who don’t get vaccinated,” Smith tweeted. “We believe in health – the real way – exercise, good diet, plenty of vitamin D, Zinc and an environment to destress.”

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Atilis Gym opened its doors in May 2020, starting a legal battle over whether Murphy’s order for nonessential businesses to remain closed was constitutional. The gym was fined more than $130,000 last year for repeatedly defying the state’s orders.

More than half a million Americans have died from the COVID-19 virus since the pandemic began.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that about 85 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a vaccine and more than 46 million are fully vaccinated. The medical community and government officials are urging the public to get a vaccine as soon as possible.

However, despite the vaccination progress, there is a resurgence of infections in the Tri-state Area, with New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware recording an increase in cases.

New Jersey now has the third-highest positivity rate nationwide, and hospitalizations have topped 2,000 for the first time in a month.

Officials blame variants and virus fatigue. People aren’t being as careful with masks and distancing, and while vaccinations are increasing, they haven’t been given to enough people to stop the uptick in cases.

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Murphy said he would hold off on lifting more restrictions until it’s clear case counts are moving in the right direction.

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