London gym owner blockaded by police facing £67k fine for refusing to close

14 November 2020, 07:00 | Updated: 14 November 2020, 14:01

A London gym owner will be taken to court by Haringey Council
A London gym owner will be taken to court by Haringey Council. Picture: Zone Gym
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A London gym owner whose business was blockaded by police is facing a £67,000 fine from his local council after refusing to shut during the second lockdown.

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

Haringey Council said it is seeking to obtain an enforceable closure order through the courts after repeatedly issuing fines and warnings to the business.

Mr Michli previously said he would remain open until a court orders him to shut as he is convinced he is "doing the right thing".

Joseph Ejiofor, leader of Haringey Council, said: "We have consistently been clear in Haringey that we must all work together to contain the spread of the virus.

"For our local businesses this is an extremely difficult time and we understand the challenges they are currently facing. However, the law is the law and it applies to everyone."

Read more: London gym owner tells of police blockade after refusing to close

Watch: Moment police break up makeshift outdoor gym in Essex

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

He told the Press Association 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."

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.

Read more: Next two weeks 'crucial' in ensuring lockdown ends - Sage expert

Read more: Church leaders launch legal challenge against public worship ban

Gyms are among the list of venues that must shut under national coronavirus lockdown restrictions which came into effect on 5 November.

Mr Ejiofor continued: "Staying as active as you can to look after your health and wellbeing is really important during this time. But it has to be done in the right way.

"We have tried on numerous occasions to communicate with the owner of Zone Gym who unfortunately decided to remain open despite repeated warnings.

"As a result, we were left with no choice but to issue fixed penalty notices and have obtained a closure notice.

"We are now awaiting the outcome of a court hearing next Tuesday where the case will be heard to obtain a closure order which we intend to enforce."

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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