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A London gym owner has been handed a £67,000 fine for refusing to close during England’s second national lockdown. Andreas Michli, 34, finally shut the doors to his Wood Green gym on Wednesday after police prevented customers entering.
Haringey council issued multiple fines against Michli over his Zone Gym business and said it obtained a closure order. Alongside the £67,000 fine, Michli said the council was also seeking to recoup court costs of £7,500.
Michli, who has owned the gym for five years, said he felt keeping it open was “the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically”. “There were a lot of reasons why I didn’t close. I couldn’t actually find a reason why to not keep it open, other than there was legislation in place,” he told PA news agency.
He said he would not decide when to reopen the gym until the resolution of the court hearing next week. The national lockdown restrictions in England, which came into force on 5 November, mean that gyms must close under law.
Michli said police arrived at his gym on Wednesday evening and stopped gym-goers entering.
“The police were manned outside the gates and they were rotating shifts every two hours. A few people managed to climb over walls and shift through little gaps to get in, but it was pretty much empty,” he said. “It was a bit of a pointless thing to do keeping the gym open while it was basically empty.”
Haringey council’s leader, Joseph Ejiofor, said the local authority had tried on numerous occasions to “communicate” with Michli, but he had “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,” he said.
Ejiofor said while the lockdown was an “extremely difficult time” for local businesses, he insisted that the “law is the law and it applies to everyone”.
Source: The Guardian
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