Gym ordered to close after owner vows to defy lockdown and stay open
Police have ordered a gym to close on the morning of a second national lockdown – after its owner vowed to defy rules and stay open.
Officers were pictured speaking to the owner outside the building this morning, and issued him with a prohibition notice ordering it to close.
They also gave three people fines – but have not yet revealed how much they must pay.
Alex Lowndes, who runs Gainz Fitness and Strength in Bedford, said earlier this week he was willing to accept a potential fine of £10,000 for breaking coronavirus regulations.
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Gyms are among the ‘non-essential businesses’ that have been forced to shut down from today.
‘The science doesn’t back the shutdown of gyms. Garden centres are
essential but gyms aren’t? It’s a farce,’ he said.
‘None of us have got huge wads of money but this is bigger than £10,000. If
they shut us down now then they’ll keep shutting us down.’
The 32-year-old pointed out that gyms can prove beneficial in tackling obesity
and mental health problems throughout the darker winter months.
He said in a video message on Instagram: ‘Gyms are part of the solution
here, not part of the problem. We need to be allowed to stay open. We are going to stay open.’
A spokesperson from Bedfordshire Police said: ‘We received reports that a gym in Bedford was in breach of the current Covid-19 regulations that came into force today.
‘Officers attended Gainz Fitness and Strength and we worked with Bedford Borough Council to serve the owner with a prohibition notice. Three people have been handed fines.
‘We understand that exercising is a priority for a lot of people, but we would urge you to find an alternative, such as a home workout or out in the open air.
‘We all need to play our part in stopping the spread of coronavirus and unfortunately this means that businesses, such as gyms, need to close.
‘If you are planning to come to Gainz Gym, please don’t as you will be at risk of being fined and those currently there will be spoken to.’
Prohibition notices are issued by police as a public safety measure, to prevent the continuation of activities officers deem to be unsafe and to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Anyone who considers the prohibition notice to be ‘unreasonable or unjust’ may write to their local police force, outlining the reasons for challenging it, within 14 days of its date of issue.
After the police visit, Gainz Strength and Fitness posted on Facebook: ‘Exercise in a gym is an offence – November 2020.
‘It’s unbelievable but it’s true. As we head into lockdown 2.0 (of how many who knows) we want to say a big thank you for all the encouragement and discouragement received.
‘Not everyone is fortunate enough to experience what a gym like ours is all about.
‘We won’t stop campaigning for our industry to be recognised as essential.’
He claimed the gym is now going to be running ‘reduced’ opening hours.
Data for the end of October shows gyms were the sixth most common place for
Test and Trace contact tracing exercises to be prompted, falling below
supermarkets, pubs and restaurants and schools.
But Alex, who runs two gyms with his wife Amber, 27, said he had received support after announcing his decision to stay open on the gym’s social media channels.
‘The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had pledges with
people offering to help out with a fine if that happens,’ he added.
Responding to the suggestion he would be contributing to spreading
coronavirus by staying open, Alex said: ‘If you want to take that stance
you should look at schools and universities.
‘You’ve got to shut down everything if you’re doing a lockdown.’
One member said on social media that he would be cancelling his membership as a result of the announcement.
He explained: ‘As a member of the scientific community I cannot condone
this and will have to resign my membership I’m afraid.
‘I had paid a whole year and had not asked for refund or extension during
the last lockdown. Very happy to support a local business but not this
Others praised Alex for pushing back at the lockdown measures.
‘Good for him. Businesses need to push back against these unnecessary
draconian measures,’ wrote another commenter.
Metro.co.uk has contacted the gym for further comment.
It comes as another gym in Wigan has also vowed to remain open, and claimed it’s ‘cleaner and safer’ than any supermarket.
Majestic Gym, in Pemberton, said it would open as usual on Thursday and it urged other businesses to ‘refuse to obey the tyranny’.
In a Facebook post, the gym said: ‘Seen the latest news from the Prime Minister and I’m proud to announce that Majestic Gym will stay open and NOT close as part of a national lockdown.
‘Please feel free to report this post to the police, the council, the Prime Minister himself.
‘Majestic Gym is cleaner and safer than any supermarket, fast food outlet or anywhere else that is allowed to stay open.
‘We temperature test every single person on entry and side we reopened in July, we’ve had 3,500 visits and nobody has failed a temperature test.
‘The more businesses that refuse to obey the tyranny, clog the legal system and save our liberties.’
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