Coronavirus: East Bay gym owner defies shelter-in-place, reopens before guidelines released by Gov. Newsom

Pleasanton, Calif. (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that guidelines for gyms and fitness centers to reopen will be released "in a week or so".

But, ABC7's I-Team has found one gym owner who has not waited to reopen, and he's about to receive a visit from the Pleasanton Police Department.

I-Team reporter Dan Noyes asked, "Are you Zoltan?"

42-year-old Zoltan Hites was used to the spotlight from his years as a professional tennis player on tour.

Dan Noyes: "Can I talk to you, please?"

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But he would not stop to answer ABC7's questions Wednesday morning.

Hites re-opened his gym, CrossFit Pleasanton, 10 days ago in violation of Alameda County's shelter-in-place order that says, "gyms and fitness centers ... not allowed to reopen at this time."

But Hites' website features a full schedule of classes for today, and ABC7 watched his clients come and go. None of them wanted to comment on camera. Some told us off camera, they're thrilled to be back in the gym and are not worried about coronavirus.

A member at the gym tipped the I-Team to the story out of concern for the spread of infection.

They provided an email from Zoltan Hites that lays out his position and his plans.

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In the email dated May 13, Hites said, "It is clear to us and the federal government that the immediate threat has passed."

He said reopening "is the only way to ensure the future of CFP."

He lays out the schedule and adds, "Masks are up to user's discretion. It is your right to use it or not."

Dr. Alok Patel, ABC7 special correspondent, said, "I hope businesses actually encourage people to wear masks."

Dr. Patel commented after seeing Hites' email to members.

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"When we have that messaging out there alongside national leaders not wearing a mask, this is kind of a set up for people to underestimate how effective they are and ultimately a set up for another outbreak."

Dr. Patel was impressed with the steps Hites is taking, as he showed on Instagram: taping off 10 by 20 foot sections for each person, sanitizing equipment between sessions, limiting the number of clients.

Dr. Patel said, "All this is really important for all businesses, not just a gym, but for restaurants, salons, malls, every single business opening up has to pay attention to the density of people in there."

Even though he has reopened his gym early, the I-Team learned today that Zoltan Hites won't face serious penalty. It's up to Pleasanton Police Department to enforce the shelter-in-place here, and a spokeswoman told us they haven't issued a single ticket to a business that broke the rules. She says police will visit Hites to urge him to close.

On Wednesday, Gov. Newsom held what he called an "economic recovery listening tour" for gym and fitness center owners.

Adam Attia of Sacramentio's Fitness Rangers told the governor, "We're not going to be able to get back to where we were for at least a year."

Newsom gave them the news they've been waiting to hear: Gyms will be cleared to reopen very soon.

Newsom said, "Within a week or so, we believe we'll be in a position to make public the guidelines in your sector."

This story did start with a tip from a member here.

If you have something we should investigate, call Dan Noyes at 1-888-40-I-Team or email him here.

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