Businesses refuse to shut despite new national lockdown

As England prepares for a second nationwide lockdown, a small number of businesses say they will refuse to shut despite the threat of being fined thousands of pounds.

The owner of Gainz Fitness and Strength, an independent gym in Bedford, said it would not be closing on Thursday as he believed that “Covid is real, but gyms are part of the solution and not part of the problem”.

Alex Lowndes, who runs the business with his wife Amber, said in a post on Instagram: “We need to be allowed to stay open, we are staying open. We hope that that becomes legal in time.”

He highlighted a document the pair had produced justifying the decision, citing the positive effects of exercise on mental and physical health.

The Government’s Sage advisory committee has suggested the closure of indoor gyms and leisure centres could reduce the R rate of infection by up to 0.1 percentage points.

Boris Johnson announced the England-wide lockdown measures would come into effect on Thursday as “without action” there could be twice as many coronavirus deaths over the winter as in the first wave.

Meanwhile, Cirq D-Play, a soft play centre in Liverpool, defended its decision to stay open because “our children’s well being and mental state is paramount”.

“We are open as normal because we believe this is absolutely the right thing to do,” the business said on Instagram, after confirming it was not complying with existing Tier 3 restrictions in Merseyside.

A video posted online showed a staff member citing “article 61” of the Magna Carta as a defence for breaching the rules, prompting a flurry of comments from historians dismissing the claim.

The peace treaty was signed by King John and rebel barons in 1215 and said the monarch and the Government would not be allowed to behave above the law.

However, only four of its 63 clauses are still valid in law today, and clause 61 is not one of them.