Gym Raided By Police For 11th Time After Repeatedly Refusing To Close During Lockdown
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A gym was raided by police for the 11th time after refusing to close during lockdown, with video footage showing officers speaking to the repeat offender.
Steven Todd, owner of Reps Gym in Preston, Lancashire, was visited by officers at around 12.30pm on Friday 29 January.
While gyms have been forced to remain closed in England throughout lockdowns - and in many tiered areas - Todd has been vocal in his opposition to the restrictions, claiming his establishment has become a 'sanctuary' for people struggling with isolation during the pandemic.
Four officers entered his gym yesterday to speak to Todd about his non-compliance with coronavirus restrictions.
Having now been visited on 11 occasions, Todd has been issued with thousands of pounds' worth of fines since lockdown began.
When asked why he was still open despite repeated orders to close, he said: "We've been through this before lads. I am happy for you to keep visiting and I understand you are just doing your job.
"You lot do a cracking job, but I know the law."
He added: "My facilities are open, free of charge, for the members with mental health issues.
"So, I will be staying open. I'm sure I'll be seeing you again soon."
Toss says he disputes the legality of coronavirus legislation, having refused to pay the fines he has accumulated in recent weeks.
Officers were unable to gain access to the gym itself - where a number of members had been working out - without a warrant.
After the 20-minute stand-off, Todd was left to continue running business... and to deal with yet another £1,000 fine.
Speaking afterwards, he said: "I'd like to put it on the record that I'm doing this for the wellbeing of all the lads and ladies that come here every day for the benefit of their mental health. It's that important.
"If I close and something happens to one of my customers, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I wouldn't want that on my conscience. They need this place open. It's essential for the good of their mental health.
"I appreciate that there is a pandemic and people are dying from the virus. I don't doubt that for a second. But our gym is massive and there's lots of space to be responsible and social distance.
"People are more at risk shopping in a supermarket or sitting on a bus."
Todd said he has not received any business support grants from the government, as he would have to shut his gym down.
He said: "I could go onto the Government website now and have £6,000 in my bank account tomorrow.
"I could sit at home and not lift a finger. But it's not about the money. People need this place.
"Before all this happened, society was obsessed with people's mental health and wellbeing. Everyone was encouraged to share their worries and seek help if they couldn't cope.
"I can go in that gym and I know lads who've lost friends. Young lads that have committed suicide through this. The mental health crisis in this country has gone off the Richter scale these last 12 months.
"Well, this is exactly why we're open. It's a release for so many people, a sanctuary and you if you take that away, some people will find it very, very difficult to cope."
Lancashire Police said any additional enforcement action against Todd is the responsibility of Preston City Council, and declined to comment further.
Councillor Peter Moss, deputy leader, said: "I understand the restrictions on businesses caused by coronavirus are difficult and am grateful to the majority who are following the rules that are there to keep people safe.
"However, there are a small number of businesses who continue to break these rules and put the health and safety of their staff and customers at risk by remaining open.
"We are aware of false information circulating on social media which is influencing a small number of businesses.
"Our teams are working closely with businesses to provide accurate advice and information on operating safely or claiming support if they are unable to operate under current government restrictions.
"While the Council will always seek to provide information and advice initially, businesses that continue to disregard this and put the safety of others at risk will face formal regulatory action leading in more serious cases to prosecution."
"We are working closely with the police in this respect and encourage members of the public who have information about businesses breaking restrictions to share this with us."