Gym boss in Liverpool vows to keep venue open despite £1,000 fine
Gym boss in Liverpool vows to keep venue open despite £1,000 fine for breaching Covid lockdown rules as Matt Hancock is urged to launch ‘Work Out to Help Out’ scheme to encourage exercise in lockdown
- EmpoweredFit visited four times by police since announcing it would stay open
- Community raised £30,000 for gym in Greasby, Wirral to help cover any fines
- Pubs and gyms on lockdown in Liverpool after area fell into ‘very high’ risk region
- It follows Matt Hancock saying he would look into ‘work out to help out’ scheme
Thea Holden, co-owner of EmpoweredFit in Greasby, Wirral, which has been fined £1,000 for refusing to close despite lockdown
A gym boss has vowed to keep their venue open despite being handed a £1,000 fine for breaching Covid-19 lockdown rules.
EmpoweredFit in Greasby, Wirral, has been visited four times by police since announcing that it would remain open, despite instructions from the Prime Minister that all gyms should close in the ‘very high’ risk region.
After introducing a new three tier scheme to classify areas with high infection rates on Monday, Liverpool was the only area to immediately fall into tier three and faced another lockdown of pubs and gyms.
It follows Matt Hancock saying he would ‘absolutely look into’ introducing a ‘work out to help out’ scheme, proposed by Tory MP Caroline Johnson, to encourage physical activity for those in lockdown areas.
Thea Holden, the co-owner of EmpoweredFit, an independent gym, said: ‘The police visited us three times yesterday and gave us a £1,000 fine.
‘Last time we stood down because we didn’t know how serious Covid-19 really was, but we have done everything we possibly can to ensure we are a safe environment.
‘We were made out to be the devil, gyms were the last ones to re-open, even after pubs, so for it to happen again now is so frustrating, especially when they can’t give us the evidence that we are responsible for higher infection rates.
‘Only a few weeks ago Boris was telling people to get back to the gym. It’s disheartening because it shows how out of touch the Government really is.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured speaking in the Commons today, said he would ‘absolutely look into’ introducing a ‘work out to help out’ scheme
‘On a personal level the gym saved my life so we know how much it means to our members to stay open and provide this outlet for them.’
The gym has taken the stance united with a number of other independent facilities in the region, winning the support of the community which has raised £30,000 to help cover any fines they incur.
Although the financial impact on shutting the gym is ‘obvious’, gym bosses say the main reason they are fighting to stay open is for the mental and physical health of their members.
Sue Lovell, Manager of EmpoweredFit, said: ‘The support we have had has been overwhelming.
‘We have been inundated with messages from people detailing how much the gym helps with with their mental health, stress management and routine.
‘Some of the messages we received throughout lockdown about what people were going through without the gym were simply devastating.
‘If you provide us the science and facts and the reasons why gyms are having to close but restaurants can stay open we would be compliant.
‘We have followed every bit of government advice to the absolute letter, we have reduced capacity, reduced our opening times, we have employed three cleaners to constantly go around disinfecting all the equipment.
Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, left, and Ms Holden, the co-owners of EmpoweredFit. The gym has taken the stance united with a number of other independent facilities in the region
The gym, above, has won the support of the community, which raised £30,000 to help cover any fines. Police have visited the gym four times since the announcement it would stay open
‘We are asking for answers and until we get them we are going to remain open.’
Meanwhile, Ms Johnson suggested that the ‘work out to help out’ scheme could include free online activities targeted to each age group and physical ability.
The MP for Sleaford and North Hykeman told the Commons: ‘The Prime Minister has been very clear in the risks of obesity of those who get coronavirus and that people who are obese have a more severe disease course than those who are slimmer.
‘But in Tier 3 areas, many gyms are being closed and many sporting activities are being restricted. So what is the Department of Health doing, what is (Mr Hancock) doing to ensure that we can encourage activity in people who are in those areas?
‘Perhaps a “work out to help out” scheme, with free online activities targeted to each age group and each physical ability?’
Mr Hancock responded: ‘I love the idea of ‘work out to help out’. It is undoubtedly true from the science that I’ve seen that obesity contributes to a worse impact on you if you catch coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured during a virtual news conference on October 12, has said that tackling the UK’s obesity problem could better prepare the country for health crises
‘It’s something the Prime Minister has spoken about with great passion and it’s something that we want to tackle. So I’ll absolutely look into that idea.
‘But I’d also say we’ve changed the proposals, both for people who are shielding and even in the highest risk, very high Tier 3 areas, to always be clear that outdoor exercise is a good thing.’
Earlier this year, Boris Johnson said that tackling the UK’s obesity problem could better prepare the country for health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Times Radio, the Prime Minister said the UK was ‘significantly fatter’ than most European countries.
Mr Johnson has previously spoken about his own aims to lose weight after he tested positive for coronavirus in March, which saw him spend time in hospital.
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