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Government backs down and allows Liverpool’s gyms to re-open despite being in Tier 3 lockdown

The government has backed down on the closing of gyms across Liverpool despite the area’s lockdown.

City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said they would be allowed to reopen under Tier 3 restrictions.

He asked for scientific evidence on why they were ordered to shut, following the announcement ones in Lancashire would remain open.

Thea Holden, the co-owner of EmpoweredFit, an independent gym in the city which stayed open during the restrictions said she was ‘over the moon’.

Meanwhile Nick Whitcombe from Bodytech Fitness in Moreton posted an emotional video on his Instagram, claiming: ‘We’ve saved our sector.’

The government has backed down on the closing of gyms across Liverpool (pictured,Bodytech Fitness in Moreton) despite the area’s lockdown

Thea Holden (right) the co-owner of EmpoweredFit, told MailOnline she was 'over the moon' with the change

Thea Holden (right) the co-owner of EmpoweredFit, told MailOnline she was ‘over the moon’ with the change

City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram told BBC Radio Merseyside they would be allowed to reopen under Tier 3 restrictions

City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram told BBC Radio Merseyside they would be allowed to reopen under Tier 3 restrictions

What are restrictions in Liverpool and what has changed?

What are the restrictions?

  • Pubs and bars will close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
  • Wedding receptions will not be permitted, although services can go-ahead with a limit of 15 people.
  • People should try to avoid travelling outside their local area, or entering another area rated Very High other than for work, education, accessing youth services, or to meet caring responsibilities.
  • People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in the Liverpool City Region and avoid staying overnight in the Liverpool City Region if they are resident elsewhere.
  • You must not socialise with anybody beyond those you live with (or have formed a support bubble with) in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than six in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue. 

What has changed? 

  • Indoor gyms were closed under the Tier 3 lockdown last week.
  • But City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said they would now be allowed to reopen.
  • It brings the region in line with restrictions in Lancashire, where gyms have remained open.
  • Yet in a blow for parents and children, the metro mayor announced indoor soft play areas would be closed.

 Source: Liverpool.gov

Reading a statement on behalf of local leaders, Mr Rotheram said: ‘Collectively, we have consistently requested the scientific evidence that supported the imposition of the suite of measures under Tier 3 and we pointed out the inconsistency of the approach following the announcement that Lancashire would not in fact have exactly the same package of restrictions as our city region.

‘Talks continued until late last night and the Government have agreed with the case I put forward on behalf of city region leaders and that they would now bring us in line with other Tier 3 areas.’

He added: ‘This would mean soft play areas would be closed but gyms could reopen.’

The changes are expected to come into play from Friday morning, when Greater Manchester goes into Tier 3.

Ms Holden said her gym would reopen fully as a 24-hour fitness centre as soon as the changes come into force.

She has been fined £2,000 for breaching the rules, which she said she would pay out of her own money.

She told MailOnline: ‘We’re over the moon. We have only just heard the news.

‘I just want to say a huge thank you to the other gyms that stayed open and the public for supporting us.’

Mr Whitcombe defied the government’s tougher lockdown rules and refused to close Bodytech Fitness in Moreton – saying ‘he won’t have one to come back to’.

But he was slapped with a £1,000 fine after a member of the public reported the gym 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.

A petition, which has been signed more than 400,000 times, was launched, while a GoFundMe page, which was set to help pay any fines, topped £50,000.

Mr Whitcombe revealed the money will go to mental health charities if the fines are overturned.

He posted a video on Instagram, with the caption: ‘We won!!!! WE DID IT!!! On my 30th birthday this Friday 23rd, WE OPEN.’

He said: ‘Today is day seven of Tier 3 restrictions in Liverpool and what would have been the ninth day fighting to rightfully have our gyms reopened.

‘Guys we’ve done it, we’ve actually done it. We’ve changed the policy, we’re good.

‘We’ve saved our sector, not only in the city region, but we’ve saved it across the country guys.

‘We’ve absolutely smashed it, can you believe how powerful this is, can you believe what we’ve actually achieved, this is absolutely phenomenal I can’t thank you guys enough on behalf of every single person in Liverpool.

‘And everybody in the sector as a whole, thank you so so so much we’ve actually done this, I can’t believe it.’    

A member of the public noticed that the gym was still open for business and called the police (pictured in the gym) who issued a warning instructing him to close

Police officers (pictured in the gym) served Liverpool gym owner Nick Whitcombe with a £1,000 fine for refusing to shut despite strict Tier 3 lockdown rules

Last week, Liverpool – and the neighbouring five boroughs which make up the city region – were put under Tier 3 coronavirus lockdown.

Hundreds of bars and pubs which do not serve meals have been shut for four weeks, with analysis suggesting as many as 1,500 businesses could be affected.

And Liverpool – at the time the only city in the top tier – went above the basic restrictions by closing leisure centres, gyms, betting shops and casinos.

Lancashire was also moved into Tier 3 over the weekend, while the government announced Greater Manchester would be moved into Tier 3 this week.

Mr Whitcombe shared footage of police inside his gym following the incident and said: ‘We have just received our first £1,000 fine at Body Tech.

Mr Whitcombe (pictured) shared footage of police inside his gym and said: 'We have just received our first £1,000 fine at Body Tech'

Police in Mr Whitcombe's gym

Mr Whitcombe (left) shared footage of police inside his gym and said: ‘We have just received our first £1,000 fine at Body Tech.’Right: Police in Mr Whitcombe’s gym

‘After meeting with the police yesterday, they told us we would get a warning first day, then a second warning, £100 fine, £200 fine and so on.

‘They were with us this morning, gave us our warning. Then came back this afternoon, orders from their top boss to issue a fine straight away.

‘So, they’ve told us ‘close immediately’ or I’ll take a £1,000 fine.

‘Obviously we still had quite a lot of members training and I said to the officers, ‘I’m not asking anyone to leave. Even if I am I’m going to let them finish their sessions first’.

‘So they’ve issued the fine. First one’s £1,000. They can come back in three hours and issue £2,000. Three hours after that £4,000.

‘It’s disappointing. They sent out seven or eight firearms officers, what a waste of resources.’

In an earlier video announcing his refusal to close the gym, Mr Whitcombe said: ‘We will not be closing our doors. We can’t.

A short while later, when he didn't shut the premises (people working out inside, pictured), 'seven or eight' police officers turned up his gym, demanding that it close or face a fine

People working out inside Bodytech Fitness in Moreton

A short while later, when he didn’t shut the premises (people working out inside, pictured), ‘seven or eight’ police officers turned up his gym, demanding that it close or face a fine

‘If we close our facility we won’t have one to come back to. We will not have a gym to come back to. There will be no business, there will be no gym, there will be no jobs.’

He added: ‘We need to keep fighting and we need you to keep supporting us. We fight the good fight. Gyms need to stay open.’

A Merseyside Police spokesman said last week: ‘We can confirm a gym in Moreton has been fined and ordered to close after opening despite the introduction of legislation prohibiting gyms from opening in the Liverpool City Region.

‘Officers were called to Body Tech Fitness on Pasture Road, Moreton at around 8.35am (Wednesday, October 14) by a member of the public who was concerned that the gym had opened in contravention of the new coronavirus legislation.

‘Officers visited the premises and warned the owner to close.

‘Upon returning later, the gym remained open and a fixed penalty notice was issued ordering the owner to pay a £1,000 fine, and he was ordered to close immediately.’

Chief Superintendent Claire Richards said: ‘We understand that people are frustrated with the current situation and for a number of local businesses, including the fitness and leisure industry, this will be particularly hard.

‘It’s not that long ago that gyms reopened their doors after lockdown and they did so after making huge changes to the way they work for the safety and protection of their customers.

‘But while this lockdown does present huge challenges, the focus of us all should now be on preventing the spread of the virus and getting us back to normality as safely and as quickly as possible.

‘The new restrictions have been brought in to try to achieve that, and if we don’t act decisively and collaboratively, the impact could be harder and last even longer.

‘We will therefore continue to encourage members of the public and businesses to adhere to the guidance, explain why they should and – as in this case – use enforcement where there are clear breaches of legislation.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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