SALEM, Ore. — A fitness center in Salem has received Oregon's largest-yet fine for defiance of coronavirus restrictions, OSHA announced on Tuesday.
The company that owns Courthouse Club Fitness in Salem, Capitol Racquet Sports Inc., was fined $126,749 for "willfully continuing to potentially expose employees to the infectious coronavirus disease despite a public health order to limit the capacity to zero for such establishments in 'extreme risk' counties."
Under the state's Extreme RIsk level, indoor gyms and fitness centers are directed to shut down completely.
OSHA said that the fine resulted from an inspection launched due to multiple complaints about the fitness center.
“We understand that this employer is attempting to do a number of things to keep employees safe without shutting down, but that does not allow them to substitute their judgment for that of the public health authorities,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood.
While there have been a few large fines stemming from COVID-19 restrictions to date, OSHA says that the one against Capitol Club Fitness is the largest penalty so far — due in large part to the "willful" nature of the violation, which allowed for a maximum penalty. This is the fifth citation issued to the same company.
Despite knowledge of the OSHA investigation and the threat of a $90,000 fine, Courthouse Club Fitness remained open at the beginning of December. According to OSHA, the company's four facilities have remained open since Governor Brown's executive order in November that called for a two-week "freeze."
"Capitol Racquet Sports continued operating after the order was effective. It did so after Oregon OSHA’s initial inquiries," the agency said. "And it did so after the division’s posting of Red Warning Notices at the four fitness-related facilities. The total penalty for all four locations was $90,000 for willful and Red Warning Notice violations."
The $126,749 fine stems from another investigation, opened on December 9, at a single club.
Company's fined by OSHA have 30 days to appeal the citation, and OSHA says that Capitol Racquet Sports appealed the four citations issued in November.