In the 22-page memorandum in opposition to the temporary restraining order filed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office last week, attorney Vincent J. Fahnlander asked a judge to deny the state’s request for a temporary restraining order.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Plainview Wellness Center and its owner, Brandon Reiter, on Nov. 24.
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The lawsuit alleged that Reiter’s fitness center is violating Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99 — which ordered that fitness centers and other places of entertainment close, and that bars and restaurants suspend indoor service, for four weeks — by remaining open past when the order went into effect.
Plainview Fitness Center has been in business since 2013. Earlier this year, Reiter reopened his gym on May 1, which was in defiance of the initial stay-at-home order.
“Rather than close again, Reiter choses to keep PWC open with even more safety protocols in place than the big box stores and other opened businesses are using,” the filing reads. “Mr. Reiter believes it is discrimination for the Executive Orders to close his small business, while large businesses, with frequent more and more close contact by shoppers, remain open.”
Arguing against the state’s request for a temporary restraining order, Fahnlander says the state’s argument that gyms and health clubs are a significant source of outbreaks has been “debunked.”
According to the AG’s filing, the Minnesota Department of Health’s contact-tracing investigations have shown that apart from long-term care settings, gyms are among the settings most frequently associated with COVID-19 outbreaks in the state. MDH has traced 49 outbreaks and 750 cases of COVID-19 to gyms in the state.
Fahnlander also argues that less-restrictive alternatives exist to protect public health. The filing cites research conducted by Mayo Clinic that concluded that mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing work well in halting or slowing the transmission of COVID-19.
If a judge were to grant the state’s request of a temporary restraining order, Reiter and his fitness center “faces irreparable harm,” he wrote.
“The State waves this away as ‘temporarily closing to the public for four weeks.’ However, in practice this is likely to mean irreparable injury to and perhaps even the death of Defendant’s business,” the filing states. “This is in addition to the detriments to the health and mental and emotional wellbeing of the people who depend on Defendant’s business.”
The filing also argues that Executive Order 20-99 is unconstitutional and the governor overstepped his authority and violated the separation of powers.
“The Executive Order violates Defendant’s constitutional rights, as some activity is allowed, while other activity of equal or more danger is barred,” the filing states. “There is no rational basis for treating the Defendant differently than the other indoor facilities in which people are allowed to gather. The State has provided no evidence that exercise has been shown to lead to an increase in Covid-19 transmissions, instead, relying on studies that examine completely