London gym owner clashes with police after refusing to shut during lockdown

Edward Cooper
·3-min read
Photo credit: Witthaya Prasongsin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Witthaya Prasongsin - Getty Images

From Runner's World

Last night, it was reported that more than thirty police offers arrived at a London gym to shut the facility down and ordered the gym owner to close his doors, following coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The Met Police raid came after Zone Gym owner Andreas Michli defied local 'lockdown' ruling by keeping his facility in Wood Green, London, open for clients and customers, despite the risk of a £10,000 fine.

At around 6pm, around 30 Metropolitan Police officers entered the premises and ordered Michli to close his doors, only to return again the next morning to find Michli had re-opened.

'As far as I can see no one is following lockdown rules anyway. The streets are full of people. The parks are full,' said one Zone Gym customer to the Mail Online.

'We are not closing!' Michli posted on the Zone Gym Facebook page. '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. The police came first last night at about 6pm when there were 30 people inside. Then they returned again at around 8.30am when about seven people were already inside. 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 outweighs 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.'

The clash between Michli and the police officers isn't the first instance of civil disobedience following new lockdown measures. In October, armed police served a Liverpool gym owner with a £1000 fine after he refused to shut the space, despite strict lockdown rules in the city. After severe backlash in person and online, the local government U-turned and allowed gyms in the local area to remain open.

Similarly, Alex Lowndes, who runs independent gym Gainz Bedford, posted a video on his Instagram page explaining why his doors will remain open during the coronavirus lockdown, claiming that 'We have done a lot of thinking and we have decided that we are actually going to stay open. The reasons for that are laid out in a document that we have prepared, which is two full pages, contains a lot of facts, a lot of relevant information.

'The same arguments apply, the same logic, the same facts. 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. We hope that becomes legal in time.'

The government shut gyms as part of the latest nation-wise effort to stem the spread of rapidly escalating virus rates, until at least the 2nd December.

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