20200501_MET_GOLD_DH01

The empty Gold's Gym in Mechanicsville has been closed since March 23rd, after Governor Northam's executive order.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has declined to hear an appeal to a ruling against Gold’s Gym’s bid to reopen its facilities.

Clerk Douglas B. Robelen said in a filing Tuesday that the court has denied a petition asking for a review of a Culpeper County Circuit Court judge’s April ruling against the gym’s effort. Gold’s Gym is represented in the case by Sens. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, and Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County.

The lawsuit, which Stanley and McDougle filed on behalf of the owner of Gold’s Gym facilities in Virginia, Merrill C. “Sandy” Hall, challenged Gov. Ralph Northam’s authority to close private fitness centers as part of the state’s effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Northam’s executive order, issued March 23, also restricted restaurant operations and closed hair salons and barbershops, among other things.

The Culpeper judge ruled last month that the closures are constitutional and the state’s high court said it was “unable to conclude that the circuit court abused its discretion” in making the ruling, resulting in the rejection of the appeal.

“I’m really pleased we were again able to successfully defend Governor Northam’s Executive Orders that have proven to be effective in keeping our communities safe, keeping Virginians healthy, and preventing further spread of COVID-19,” Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement. “During these difficult and unprecedented times, we must continue to all work together to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe and healthy.”

In a joint statement, McDougle and Stanley said the decision “gives a governor near-dictatorial powers.”

“As this decision prevents our client from reopening his business unless and until Governor Northam relents and follows the lead of his fellow governors, we are both examining and intend to pursue financial remedies on Mr. Hall’s behalf,” the senators said, adding that they are “obviously disappointed” with the ruling.

While some businesses were allowed to reopen Friday under Virginia’s Phase One plan, indoor gyms are still closed.

jmattingly@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6012

Twitter: @jmattingly306

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