Watch CBS News

NJ Business Owners Say Risk Of Reopening Without Governor's OK Outweighs Consequences Of Staying Closed

POMPTON LAKES, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There is a growing movement of businesses in New Jersey defying stay-at home orders.

These salon and gym owners say the risk of reopening far outweighs the consequences of staying closed.

In Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, there was a show of defiance in front of Fairlamb Fit Gym.

RELATED STORY: Brooklyn Businesswoman Questions Why Small Businesses Aren't Trusted To Reopen With Safety Measures In Place

Owner Scott Fairlamb, backed by supporters, announced his plans to reopen on Monday whether Gov. Phil Murphy allows it or not.

"He has overstepped his boundaries and it's time for these gyms, that are, that are essential to open up," Fairlamb said.

He even gave law enforcement a heads up.

Fairlamb's gym has been closed since March 23.

Without membership fees or small business loans coming through, he is struggling to survive.


In Parsippany, hair salon owner George Verdis is also readying himself for a fight.

Verdis plans to re-open June 1, and he told CBS2's Christina Fan a number of other business owners plan to follow suit.

"We will follow the social distancing rules. We'll follow the guidelines that are in place, the sanitation codes. We will do everything that's asked of us, but the one thing we will not do is stay closed. I will not. I refuse to lose my business and lose everything I built since I'm a kid," Verdis said.

When asked about those openly defying his executive order, Murphy said his chief legal counsel and head of the New Jersey State Police will take action.

"They're out of compliance, and that's not going to be tolerated. I'll leave that to Matt and Pat and they can deal with it from there," Murphy said.

RELATED STORY: As Statewide Toll Tops 10,000 Deaths, New Jersey Continues Reopening With Return Of Elective Surgeries

The governor never provided specific consequences, but business owners say they're not backing down or looking to start trouble.

They say they're just standing up for what they believe is right.

Business owners say they will abide by strict social distancing guidelines – spacing out their equipment, buying masks and gloves, and even hiring disinfecting companies.

"If that's what this is going to come down to, that I have to break the law in order to provide for my family, and to, you know, to provide for my employees and have them provide for their families, well then, you know what? So be it," Verdis said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.