Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Gym owner who refused to close after 30 cops moved in to shut it down over lockdown breach to be hauled before courts

A GYM owner who refused to close during the second national lockdown is being taken to court.

More than 30 police officers were sent to shut down Zone Gym after owner Andreas Michli continued to allow customers to workout.

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Michli vowed to keep his business open despite the Government's Covid lockdown rules and the risk of arrest and a £10,000 fine.

Cops entered the gym in Wood Green, North London, at 6pm on Wednesdayto stop patrons from working out while another group on arrived at 8.30am on Thursday.

But Michli reopened his gym after police shut itsaid that he would keep his gym open 24 hours a day until the end of lockdown.

Now Haringey Council has said it has gone to court in a bid to close the gym.

“We have consistently been clear in Haringey that we must all work together to contain the spread of the virus," said council leader Joseph Ejiofor.

“For our local businesses this is an extremely difficult time and we understand the challenges they are currently facing



“Staying as active as you can to look after your health and wellbeing is really important during this time. But it has to be done in the right way.

“We have tried on numerous occasions to communicate with the owner of Zone Gym who unfortunately decided to remain open despite repeated warnings.

“As a result, we were left with no choice but to issue fixed penalty notices and have obtained a closure notice.

“We are now awaiting the outcome of a court hearing next Tuesday where the case will be heard to obtain a closure order which we intend to enforce.”

Michli reportedly had an angry exchange with officers as they arrived at the premises to stop people from entering the car park.

Gym-users who were unable to gain access yelled at police.

One shouted: "You're behaving like Nazis. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

By 11am the shutters of the gym were back up and more than a dozen people were working out in the gym.

Enforcement officers from Haringey Council arrived at lunch to serve legal papers warning they would force entry to the premises on Thursday in an effort to secure its closure.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: "Police have attended Zone Gym in Coburg Road, N22, on a number of occasions in the past week to support council officers who are engaging with the business owners in relation to the enforcement of Covid regulations."


After the raid Michli posted a video to his Facebook page where he told his followers that he was not closing his gym.

"We are not closing," he said in a rallying cry.

"We are staying open because it's the right thing to do and we need the message to get out there to the public. 

"I am flabbergasted gyms are being forced to close. Gyms have some of the lowest infection rates of business sectors.

"The police have asked us to close but we are going to do right by our members even if the legislation says different. We are keeping people healthy. 

"This is not about the police, and we understand they have a job to do.

"It's about people at the very top of government making the wrong decisions. Closing gyms is the worst decision I've encountered in my life.

 

"The benefits of keeping gyms open completely outweigh any reasons that exist to close them.

"You improve your immune system by going to the gym which means it makes no sense to close them."

On the first day of the second lockdown on November 5 police were out in force to shut down gyms and send people home.

Cops cracked down on fitness centres across the country that remained open.

One gym owner in Bedford got a grilling from cops after he defied lockdown rules by keeping Gainz Fitness and Strength open.

Alex Lowndes, 32, said that he was willing to accept a potential fine of £10,000 to keep his gym open.

But officers today stormed into Gainz Fitness and Strength in Bedford, Cambs, where they issued a prohibition notice ordering it to close.

Gyms and fitness clubs have been one of the many non-essential businesses forced to close in the second national lockdown.

However, the number of cases reported to come from gyms after they were reopened were low.

In July there were a reported 22million visits to gyms with 78 Covid-19 cases being tracked to these locations.

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