A possible £10k fine is not enough to deter one gym owner who has vowed to keep his business open despite a looming national lockdown.
Alex Lowndes, from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, said he would “100 per cent” break lockdown rules to keep his two gyms open.
Gyms are among the “non-essential businesses” that will be forced to shut down during November if MPs pass the lockdown bill in Parliament tomorrow.
“The science doesn’t back the shutdown of gyms. Garden centres are essential but gyms aren’t? It’s a farce,” Alex told CambridgeshireLive.
Alex, who opened Gainz Fitness and Strength in St Neots and Bedford three years ago, said he was willing to accept the potential fine of £10,000 for breaking the coronavirus lockdown rules.
“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,” he explained.
Alex, 32, pointed out that gyms can prove beneficial in tackling obesity and mental health problems throughout the darker winter months.
He said in a video message on Instagram: “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.”
Data for the end of October shows gyms were the sixth most common place for Test and Trace contact tracing exercises to be prompted, falling below supermarkets, pubs and restaurants and schools.
Watch Gainz Fitness and Strength owner Alex Lowndes explaining his decision to break lockdown rules:
Alex told CambridgeshireLive he had received support after announcing his decision to stay open on the gym’s social media channels.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had pledges with people offering to help out with a fine if that happens,” said Alex, who runs the gyms with his wife Amber, 27.
Responding to the suggestion he would be contributing to spreading coronavirus by staying open, Alex said: “If you want to take that stance you should look at schools and universities.
“You’ve got to shut down everything if you’re doing a lockdown.”
Alex’s decision was met with a mixed reaction on Facebook. One man, who claims to be a member at Gainz, said he was cancelling his membership as a result.
He explained: “As a member of the scientific community I cannot condone this and will have to resign my membership I’m afraid.
“I had paid a whole year and had not asked for refund or extension during the last lockdown. Very happy to support a local business but not this attitude.”
Others praised Alex for pushing back at the lockdown measures.
“Good for him. Businesses need to push back against these unnecessary draconian measures!” one woman said.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised the lockdown will end on December 2, but other senior ministers have hinted it may be extended if it does not succeed in sufficiently reducing infection rates.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said on Sunday there was “obviously a possibility” the restrictions could last longer than the first lockdown.
MPs are set to vote tomorrow on the new lockdown measures which would come into place from Thursday.
The new rules will see most shops, pubs and restaurants closed throughout November in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Schools and colleges will remain open. People will also be allowed to exercise and socialise in outdoor public spaces with their household or one other person.