Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

Coronavirus: Merseyside gym fined by police for refusing to shut gets £31,000 in donations

More than £31,000 has been donated to a Merseyside gym that was fined by police for staying open and breaking coronavirus restrictions.

Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral received a £1,000 penalty after it defied Tier 3 restrictions that came into force in the area on Wednesday.

Owner Nick Whitcombe had said on Instagram that he wouldn’t close, posting: “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.”

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On Wednesday, he posted a video showing five police officers in the gym – who he said had warned him to shut.

Merseyside Police confirmed officers went to the gym on Wednesday morning after a report that it was breaking the new rules.

The £1,000 fine was handed out when officers returned later in the day and found the gym still open.

Mr Whitcombe said he was told the fine would repeatedly double if he refused to shut.

Supporters have rallied round and a GoFundMe page to help with any legal costs has raised more than £31,000.

Merseyside Police Chief Superintendent Claire Richards stressed the new rules were vital to protect people’s health.

“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, and if we don’t act decisively and collaboratively, the impact could be harder and last even longer.”

The Liverpool area is subject to the top tier of coronavirus restrictions, which have also shut pubs and bars.

The UK’s largest gym chain, Pure Gym, has said it is considering legal action over the decision to close gyms in the city.

Meanwhile, a petition urging the government to exclude gyms from anti-COVID measures has so far been signed by more than 131,000 people.

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