PLANTATION, FLA. (WSVN) - A Plantation gym owner has bonded out of jail after he was arrested for a third time in as many weeks for violating the city’s mask ordinance.
7News cameras captured 31-year-old Michael Carnevale and his wife, Jillian Gilbert, walking out of the Broward County Jail after their arrest, Friday night.
“We all have the right to get sick if we want to get sick, just like if you decide to go out during flu season,” said Gilbert.
Carnevale, who owns Fitness 1440 along West Broward Boulevard, was first arrested in July for failing to enforce the county’s mask mandate. Police said he was allowing his clients to work out without wearing a face covering.
He was then arrested on Thursday for again violating the county executive order.
Carnevale defended his decision after his second arrest, saying that the face masks restricts their breathing.
“The more we seem to comply with these mandates, the more bizarre, the more intrusive these mandates seem to have gotten,” he said. “We know cases are up, we understand that, but at the same time, exercise, nutrition, hydration — these are things that aren’t really being discussed.”
Gilbert, a co-owner of the gym, said the county’s mask mandate is intrusive.
“We all have our own rights, and we can sit here and argue and go back and forth, but at the end of the day, we’re just looking to stand up for human rights,” she said.
Fitness 1440 staff set up equipment in the business’s parking lot after he was instructed to shut down.
“We played ball. We closed our business in the name of health,” said Carnevale. “We opened our business again with new policies, new procedures, all in the name of health.”
But part of the citation, in addition to a night in jail, is a 96-hour shutdown, meaning Carnevale couldn’t run a gym, not even in the parking lot.
“It kills me to be closed for our membership base, and this is just something we can do for them,” said Carnevale.
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said he understands the gym owner’s concerns, but everyone has to follow the rules.
“We certainly are concerned about everyone earning a living, and we don’t want to close businesses, but I think this young man is a little bit defiant in his behavior,” he said.
The gym is now being guarded by Plantation Police.
Some clients could be seen using the equipment set up in the parking lot with face coverings.
Nicholas Zarrillo showed up to work out but did not know he would have to do it outside.
“It’s very strange,” said Zarrillo. “It should be a person’s decision, but at the same time, you gotta wear the masks, you know. You gotta use the hand sanitizers. It’s not much of a hassle to do it.”
Carnevale was arrested along with Gilbert. This was the first time she was taken into custody.
“Nobody is inside, people aren’t paying to be here,” she told a Plantation Police officer after she was placed in handcuffs.
“South Florida needs fitness,” said Carnevale.
“We understand that,” said the officer.
“No, you don’t,” said Carnevale.
After being arrested a third time, Carnevale seemed pretty familiar with the Plantation Police officers.
“I’m so sorry that we disagree,” he said.
Carnevale is suing the county for the mask mandate and is part of the suit led by Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini.
The attorney said the gym equipment was put in the parking lot for people to borrow, and they are not considering a second lawsuit for harassment.
After bonding out of jail, Carnevale declined to comment on his decision to reopen the gym.
7News reached out to Sabatini, who said he would discuss his client and the situation, and are waiting for a response.
“I appreciate the question … I appreciate you guys, thank you,” he said.
Gilbert said she and her husband plan to reopen the gym. When asked whether or not they will allow clients to exercise without masks, she replied, “I have not had time to think about that.”
The earlier citation ordering Fitness 1440 to close is set to expire Monday, but the latest shutdown order will require the gym to remain closed an additional week.
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