Fuming police raid gym that refuses to close during lockdown for 11th time

A gym owner had a visit from the police for the eleventh time as he continues to refuse to shut down his business during the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

Owner Steven Todd of Reps Gym in Preston, Lancashire, has refused to close his business despite government orders to do so.

Gyms in England have been shut since November 5 last year amid ongoing rules designed to limit the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

However, Mr Todd has refused to follow the rules – despite fines for those who breach them – and has vowed to continue to defy business lockdown rules.

Cops arrived on Friday at 12:30pm to confront the gym owner for the 11th time as his doors remained open for some members.

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Four officers arrived to quiz the businessman who grumbled: "Oh, here we go again" as police pulled up to his gym.

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."

The standoff lasted for 20minutes – with Mr Todd receiving another £1,000 fine.

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The businessman disputes the legality of compulsory gym lockdowns – and has refused to pay the fines he has clocked up.

In footage shared online, he argued: "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."

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Mr Todd says he is shunning government grants and is fighting to remain open to benefit those in his community.

He said: "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."

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Lancashire Police have deferred additional enforcement action against Mr Todd to Preston City Council.

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."

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