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Protesters gather at regulator’s home over COVID-19 gym fine

November 30, 2020 GMT

SILVERTON, Ore. (AP) — About 50 protesters converged on the Silverton, Oregon, home of a state workplace safety regulator to protest a large fine levied against a Salem gym owner.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Silverton Police Chief Jim Anglemier identified the protestors who gathered Sunday afternoon as members and affiliates of Patriot Prayer, the conservative group founded by Joey Gibson.

“There were no problems, no issues,” Anglemier said. “They stayed on the sidewalks and they stayed off private property.”

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administrator Michael Wood said in a statement Monday that “Oregon OSHA worked with the affected enforcement officer over the holiday weekend to minimize, to the degree possible, the disruption to him and his family (particularly his young child).”

The controversy stems from a $90,000 penalty issued against a Salem gym and its owner, who refused to comply with Gov. Kate Brown’s economic “freeze.” Brown announced the freeze and related restrictions earlier this month in an effort to stem the explosion of new COVID-19 cases.

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“As a result of the harm done to our business from the first shutdown, we will not survive another closure,” John Miller said in a statement before the freeze went into effect on Nov. 18. “This is a horrible position I find myself in, and it leaves me with only one choice: Courthouse Club Fitness will remain open (Nov. 18) and the days to follow.”

Courthouse has five locations in the Salem-Keizer area.

Gyms and many other businesses also had to close or restrict their operations in Brown’s first lockdown order last spring.

Patriot Prayer has been a vocal opponent of the lockdown and freeze orders implemented in Oregon and many other states.