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The BIG Drive Home

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Gym owner facing £67k fine says staying open ‘morally right thing to do’

Written by on 14 November 2020

A gym owner facing a GBP67,000 fine after refusing to close during England’s second lockdown says staying open was the “morally right” thing to do.

Andreas Michli, 34, who runs Zone Gym in north London, said he could not find a reason to close “other than there was legislation in place”.

Allowing people to continue exercising “felt like the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically”, he said.

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His premises were finally closed on Wednesday after police stopped customers from entering, with officers “manned outside the gates (on) rotating shifts every two hours”, he said.

Even then, Mr Michli said a few people managed to “climb over walls and shift through little gaps to get in”, although he admitted it was “pretty much empty”.

Haringey Council, which has issued repeated fines against him, is seeking a closure order through the courts.

In addition to almost GBP70,000 in fines, Mr Michli claims the local authority is seeking GBP7,500 in court costs.

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Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor said attempts had been made to communicate with Mr Michli on a number of occasions, but he “unfortunately decided to remain open despite repeated warnings”.

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

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

Gyms are on the list of venues which must close under restrictions which began on 5 November in England.

Mr Michli said he would decide when to reopen following a court hearing next week.