Essex gym owner arrested after staying open on first day of second lockdown

A gym owner has been arrested for refusing to close under the new lockdown measures that came into force on Thursday.

Officers swooped in on The Ripped Gym in Harlow, Essex to issue the owner with a fixed penalty notice but she refused to give her details.

Essex Police had been "made aware of social media posts" that suggested the gym would be "remaining open against the law".

The owner, who was reportedly not co-operating, was eventually arrested on suspicion of breaching coronavirus legislation.

Ten gym-goers who were flouting the rules by continuing to work out at The Ripped Gym on the first day of England's national lockdown, received fixed penalty notice tickets.

Harlow Council has issued a prohibition order requiring it to close.

Chief Inspector Natalia Ross said: "We will not tolerate those who commit clear and blatant breaches of the legislation.

"Enforcement is always a last resort but sadly there are times where we have had to take robust action to keep people safe."

The owner of Gainz Fitness and Strength in Bedford was also given a prohibition notice and three people were fined £200 after police attended.

Co-owner Amber Lowndes said: "It's no secret that we're fighting this campaign to stay open to make gyms essential.

"I can't believe we're at this in 2020, that it's a crime to exercise in a gym and it shouldn't be."

Ms Lowndes said that their premises acted as a "therapy centre".

She said: "We're a place where people come to feel safe, and especially now as we're entering winter, it's so vital that we're allowed to be classed as essential because we can't go out for a jog at 5 o'clock because it's dark and it's miserable."

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Ch Supt John Murphy said infection rates in Bedfordshire are rising at concerning levels so it is vital that everyone adheres to the rules.

"The vast majority of people are doing that, so it is extremely disappointing that this particular venue decided to ignore the rules which have been put in place to keep people safe.

"We were left with little option but to take enforcement action in partnership with colleagues from Bedford Borough Council."

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