Hackney gym owner faces £1,000 fine after offering lockdown workouts

Police were called on Friday morning to reports of the breach at a fitness centre on Stean Street and found the gym open and three people inside. A Met police spokesman said the owners were informed of the need to comply with Covid regulations and reminded non-essential businesses should not be open during lockdown before being reported for consideration of a GBP1,000 fixed penalty notice. Chief Inspector Pete Shaw, the Covid lead for Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: ‘Whilst there are certain rules around people being allowed to exercise in public under this lockdown, nowhere in the legislation does it allow people to go to gyms to work out.

“Those found to be flouting the rules, as with this instance, should expect necessary enforcement action to be taken against them. “We are thankful that the vast majority of people continue to follow the guidance and do their part to reduce the infection rate.” Under current regulations, people can leave home to exercise but are told to “minimise time spent outside”.

Exercise can be done “in a public outdoor space” but it “limited to once per day and you should not travel outside your local area”.

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Policing of the regulations has been controversial with one force – Derbyshire Police – saying  it will review all fixed penalty notices issued during the new national lockdown. One of the would-be walkers, Jessica Allen, told the BBC officers informed her a hot drink she had brought with her was not allowed as it was “classed as a picnic”. The force had said the women could have taken exercise closer to their home addresses, and described their actions as “clearly not in the spirit of the national effort” to reduce travel and the possible spread of coronavirus.

But in a statement on Friday evening, Derbyshire Police said it had received further guidance the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which had clarified that the “covid regulations which officers enforce and which enables them to issue FPNs (fixed penalty notices) for breaches, do not restrict the distance travelled for exercise”.