Orchard Park gym owners push back against police, health department saying regulations are unjust

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 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB)–Outrage over new orange zone restrictions turned into a tense moment inside an Orchard Park gym.

Robby Dinero, owner of Athletes Unleashed, says regulations forcing businesses in Erie County’s Orange Zone are unjust. That’s why he and other business owners are taking a stand. He helped organize this protest at his gym, with other upset business owners. 

“We had a huge number show up. The meeting was going very well,” Dinero said.

Until members of the Erie county sheriff’s office ​and health department arrived.

“The sheriffs escorted an Erie County Health Department worker into my building. They didn’t knock, they just walked right it.”

Dinero didn’t want them on his property and the demonstrators forced them out. Business owner and event promoter Tim Walton recorded the interactions. 

“Nobody wants to put anybody in danger, straight forward, everybody wants everybody safe but at the same time it’s been around so long now that people know the risk people know what they’re getting into so if you are scared stay home. If you’re high risk, stay home,” Walton said.

News 4 did reach out the to Erie County Health Department Saturday, and officials say they’ll address this on Monday.

Dinero says he doesn’t agree with how the state is handling the shutdown and feels gyms are being unfairly targeted.

“There is no standard. There’s no rhyme or reason. I am personally very glad that martial arts studios get to be open. Gymnastics studios get to be open, dance studios, I think that’s awesome. I’m glad Walmart gets to be open because Walmart employs a lot of people, Target Etc. How are they any different from this gym?”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced this past week that gyms are one of the places where COVID- 19 is spread, as well as, supermarkets, restaurants and large gatherings

Dinero has temporarily closed Athletes Unleashed and is following the state’s guidelines, but he does say he will continue to protest.

“Being shut down for as long as we’ve been shut down and under these new restrictions has been very challenging to build that client list, nobody wants to commit so we just keep losing and losing at a great rate than we’re gaining and that’s unsustainable. Just as we’re getting back in the swing of things and building our numbers and rebuilding this community, he’s shutting us down again.”

News 4 reached out to the Erie County Sheriff’s office, but they could not provide us with a comment at this time. 

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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