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Gym owner responds to city mask ordinance, city explains process

If someone is caught violating the city mask ordinance, the gym goer and the gym owner could recieve a citation
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 12:13 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - “I do need to speak for my business, but I also want to speak for a lot of business owners here in Laredo that are being put in positions where they may lose their life’s work,” said Helio Chapuseaux, co-owner of Rock Fitness Center on Jacaman Road.

An employee released video footage without his knowledge of an encounter he had with code enforcement officers in late July.

Officers visited his gym three times, giving warnings and a citation for allegedly violating the city’s face mask ordinance.

His citation is just one of 50 issued to various businesses since June.

“Get out of here. Get out of here,”he says to officers in the video.

One of the officers on scene was Zoning Enforcement Supervisor Edgar Orozco.

They obtained an inspection warrant for Rock Fitness, the only warrant in the city related to face coverings.

“We were denied access. We asked for permission, and they simply did not give us permission,” Orozco said. “We were able to get a warrant and inspect. We were able to find a lot of evidence of people not wearing face masks, so it’s set up for trial.”

Code enforcement conducts about 400 to 600 visits per day, totaling 12,000 since June and 200 warnings to businesses.

If a violation is found, the gym goer and the gym owner could get a citation, which can be between $1,000 and $2,000.

For comparison, violations under Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s health order is punishable by a fine of up to $250.

Laredo’s Municipal Court Judge can decide to issue a fine, revoke a business license, or give the business a second opportunity to fix the violation.

In Rock Fitness Center’s case, the owner appealed the citation and will go to trial sometime in November.

“I was just standing up for my business,” Chapuseaux said. “I was just saying what a lot of business owners in Laredo want to say, but perhaps they don’t want conflict or they don’t want to be put on a bad list by city officials because we are questioning their methods.”

To recap, you must wear a face mask in gyms even when you’re training.

A code enforcement officer can give you a warning or citation, but a judge ultimately decides whether to dismiss it or fine you.

You can also appeal the citation.

For more information, code enforcement encourages you to visit the City of Laredo’s webpage.

If you have more questions about the process, you can call 311 for more information. They will also hand out masks if needed.

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