Gym owner sees 'flimsy' and 'inept' covid case against him dropped
A gym owner who faced a £10,000 fine for keeping his gym open during the second lockdown has seen the 'flimsy' and 'inept' case against him dropped.
Alex Lowndes, who owns Gainz Fitness and Strength in St Neots and Bedford in Cambridgeshire, refused to close his gym in November 2020 after Covid-19 restrictions were imposed.
Mr Lowndes' gym was subsequently raided by police and he was charged with a breach of lockdown regulations, which he denied.
Mr Lowndes failed to pay the fixed penalty notice and was due to stand trial last March, however the case collapsed because the authority failed to gather enough evidence.
Mr Lowndes said: 'They [the council] should have looked at it even six months in and gone 'this is a waste of time'.
'But they kept going and they kept going, they brought in an external barrister, they kept spending money, and it just got out of control.'
He added: '[Contesting the case] was based on principle. We should never have shut in the first place and we stand by what we did at the time.'
At the time, Mr Lowndes said he was willing to accept the potential fine.
'The science doesn't back the shutdown of gyms. Garden centres are essential but gyms aren't? It's a farce,' he said.
'None of us have got huge wads of money but this is bigger than £10,000. If they shut us down now then they'll keep shutting us down.
'Gyms are part of the solution here, not part of the problem. We need to be allowed to stay open. We are going to stay open.'
Gyms were ordered to shut their doors under lockdown rules in 2020 but the government confirmed they would lift the ban from December 2 under a tier system.
Many gyms up and down the country refused to shut their doors during restrictions, claiming they provide a vital service that improves both physical and mental health.
Nick Whitcombe defied the government's tougher lockdown rules and refused to close Bodytech Fitness in Moreton, Merseyside - saying 'he won't have one to come back to' if he did.
But he was quickly slapped with a £1,000 fine, after a member of the public reported the gym was still open, before armed officers turned up at the gym to demand he close it.
The gym boss then launched a campaign in which he vowed to stay open to members despite the threat of fines and closure.
Steven Todd of Reps Gym in Preston, Lancs, ignored 11 previous warnings and fixed penalty notices ordering him to close his doors during the national lockdown.
He claimed his gym provided an important public service to protect the mental health of its users.