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'I’ll sit in jail, I’ll pay the fine’: Montgomery County gym owner defies governor’s order, reopens business

Owner says it’s a matter of survival

HOUSTON – While some businesses across the state prepare to open Friday, Gov. Abbott has decreed that other, close contact businesses, like, gyms and beauty shops must remain closed.

But Montgomery County Judge Mark J. Keough won’t enforce that order because it’s too vague.

While the two sides work to resolve the impasse, some Montgomery County businesses aren’t waiting.

“You have people backed into a corner. You’re leaving them with no options. We’re not seeing stimulus money. We’re not seeing any of those small business loans. They’re not getting to us,” said owner Quentin Bryan.

“Not going to stop us,” he said. “I’ll sit in jail, I’ll pay the fine. Whatever I’ve got to do. The fine is a drop in the hat to the bills I’ve got to pay.

Bryan said social distancing is strictly enforced and that the workout machines are wiped down with sanitizer every two hours.

And even while some medical experts warn that opening some businesses too soon could reinvigorate spread of the virus, Bryan said he has no choice.

“We have no other choice. It’s not like we want to disobey the law, but at some point, enough is enough. If you can go into a movie theater, if you can herd people into the grocery store, if you can herd them into Walmart, or a gas station, or Buckey’s, what’s the difference,” he said.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Spenser said his office is waiting for clarification of the governor’s executive order to begin enforcement. And says to date, they’ve received no complaint about any business being in violation of the current stay at home order.