Coronavirus: Gym owner fined for refusing to close in Covid shutdown

Image caption,
Body Tech Fitness owner Nick Whitcombe refused to close despite a warning

A Merseyside gym that stayed open despite strict new coronavirus restrictions has been fined £1,000.

Police attended Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral, twice on Wednesday as new Tier 3 measures came into force.

The rules for the Liverpool City Region mean gyms, betting shops and many pubs cannot open.

Owner Nick Whitcombe had repeatedly taken to social media to say the gym would continue to stay open as it is "vital to physical and mental health".

He said: "We are not staying open for financial gain but more for our members mental and physical well-being.

"Gyms should be supported in fighting against Covid obesity, mental health and many other conditions and diseases."

'Clear breach'

Merseyside Police said officers acted after a report from a member of the public concerned the gym was breaking the rules.

Officers ordered the gym to close on Wednesday morning but issued the fine after finding it still open when they returned later that day.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral, is among the gyms opposed to the closure order

Ch Supt Claire Richards said she understood people were "frustrated" but appealed to the public and businesses "to adhere to the guidance"

She said enforcement would be used "where there are clear breaches of legislation".

"While this lockdown does present huge challenges, the focus of us all should now be on preventing the spread of the virus and getting us back to normality as safely and as quickly as possible.

"The new restrictions have been brought in to try to achieve that."

Some medical experts say gyms could encourage the virus to spread, as they are humid and confined spaces with shared equipment.

But several gym operators have opposed that view, claiming the fitness benefits to the public are of greater value.

The UK's largest gym chain, Pure Gym, has said it is considering legal action over the decision to close gyms and fitness centres in Liverpool.

A petition calling for the Government to prevent gyms closing as a measure to stop the spread of Covid-19 has been signed by more than 131,000 people.

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