Why is Raimondo shutting us down? asks gym owner


WOONSOCKET — Why have we been singled out?

That is the question Stephen Lukin, a co-owner of four of the 16 Planet Fitness locations in Rhode Island, is asking in the wake of Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s two-week shutdown order for all fitness centers, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 13.

That is also the question being asked by Laura Cole, 41, of Cumberland, a full-time mother who frequents Planet Fitness up to five times a week.

“I am frustrated and mad,” Cole told The Journal on Saturday. “My entire family goes there. My mother is 74 … my sister, 36. … We use it not only for physical fitness, [but] in this pandemic … it is part of our mental well-being.”

“I cannot emphasize how safe I feel when I am there. To have it taken away from me is [not only] frustrating, it puts a little bit of panic in me.”

Planet Fitness co-owner Stephen Lukin questions why the governor singled out his industry for a two-week shutdown, despite "zero evidence" of COVID spread at R.I. gyms and fitness centers.

“Almost no one else is closing,” said Lukin of Raimondo’s latest effort to halt the surging spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, except for colleges and universities, already scheduled for holiday breaks, other indoor recreational facilities, organized sports and bars.

“We don’t want restaurants to close. We don’t want grocery stores, liquor stores … to close either, as long as they can operate in a safe way.

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