‘It felt like the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically’ Gym owner facing £67k fine for refusing to close during lockdown

A north London gym owner is facing a £67,000 fine from his local council after refusing to close during the second national lockdown.

Andreas Michli, 34, said he finally shut his Zone Gym in Wood Green on Wednesday after police blocked customers from entering his premises.

Haringey Council, which has repeatedly issued fines against him, is now seeking to obtain a closure order through the courts which it intends to enforce.

Mr Michli told the PA news agency: “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.

“It felt like the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically.”

Mr Michli said he was delaying his decision on when to reopen the premises until the outcome of the court hearing next week.

On top of the £67,000 fine he faces, the local authority is also seeking a further £7,500 for court costs, Mr Michli claimed.

Gyms are included in the list of venues that must close under national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions which came into effect on November 5 in England.

Mr Michli, who has owned his gym for five years, said he closed the premises on Wednesday evening after police blocked people from entering.

He said: “The police were manned outside the gates and they were rotating shifts every two hours.

“It was a bit of a pointless thing to do keeping the gym open while it was basically empty.

“A few people managed to climb over walls and shift through little gaps to get in, but it was pretty much empty.”

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Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor said the local authority had tried on numerous occasions to “communicate” with Mr Michli, who “unfortunately decided to remain open despite repeated warnings”.

He said: “As a result, we were left with no choice but to issue fixed penalty notices and have obtained a closure notice.”

Mr Ejiofor said while the lockdown was an “extremely difficult time” for local businesses, the “law is the law and it applies to everyone”.