Council wins court order to close gym that breached lockdown rules

A north London council has won a court order requiring a gym to close after the owner tried to stay open during the second national lockdown.

Andreas Michli, 34, was issued with £77,000 worth of fines by Haringey Council after he refused to shut his Zone Gym in Wood Green.

The council obtained a closure order at a hearing at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

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

Coronavirus graphics
Coronavirus graphics

After being repeatedly fined for breaching the rules, Mr Michli was finally forced to shut the gym last week after police blocked customers from entering the premises.

He told the PA news agency on Saturday: “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.”

He claimed people had “managed to climb over walls and shift through little gaps to get in” while police had manned the gates outside the gym, before deciding to close.

Mr Michli, who has owned his gym for five years, previously said he was delaying his decision on when to reopen the premises pending the outcome of the court hearing.

The PA news agency understands that the £77,000 of fixed penalty notices issued to Mr Michli are still outstanding, and he also now owes £9,000 for court costs.

Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor welcomed the court’s decision to issue a closure order.

He said: “I understand why the owner felt passionately about staying open, but the law is the law and it applies to everyone.

“It is not right for every other non-essential business, having had to close its doors and make a huge sacrifice, to then see another business remain open.

“Our enforcement officers did everything in their power from the very start to communicate with the owner of Zone Gym. That included engaging, explaining and encouraging regarding the legislation that has been put in place.

“Enforcement is always our last resort but despite numerous visits to the premises, the owner refused to work with us, and we were forced to issue £77,000 of fixed penalty notices for breaches of the rules.

Coronavirus fines graphic
Coronavirus fines graphic

“Taking this matter to the courts showed that we were not prepared to risk the health of people across Haringey.”

Mr Ejiofor added: “I am pleased that the owner is now doing the right thing and has closed the gym.

“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.

“I would be willing to discuss this with him in the future when all legal matters are concluded.

“Let me make this clear. The safety of our residents in Haringey will always remain our number one priority and if anyone refuses to abide by the law, we will be left with no choice but to take strong action.”