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London gym owner tells of police blockade after he refused to close in lockdown
12 November 2020, 09:42
A gym owner in London who is refusing to shut despite a police blockade outside his business has said he is convinced he is "doing the right thing".
Andreas Mishli, 34, who owns Zone Gym in Haringey, north London, has broken lockdown rules by keeping his doors open to the public since the restrictions were introduced last Thursday.
The fitness fanatic said he is certain "with all (his) heart" that he is doing the right thing despite officers forming a "yellow wall of jackets" outside the establishment to prevent his members from training.
Gyms are included in the list of venues that must close under national lockdown restrictions in England.
Former Metropolitan Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Roberts told LBC's Nick Ferrari that although sending 30 officers to block the gym "sounds ridiculously over the top", the police were heading to a location where the owner had repeatedly refused to close and they did not actually know how many people would be present.
However, the gym owner, who Mr Roberts said was acting "outside the law", said that "by the Government's own admission" gyms were "the safest place to be" and he would not be closing.
"Before (members) were actually prevented from coming in by the police, we've been pretty much at capacity, all day, every day, 24 hours a day," he said.
"We've had people coming from all over the country to train from as far as Scotland. They've come to get their fix."
Mr Mishli said several officers arrived on Tuesday evening at around 6pm to block the premises and returned on Wednesday morning.
He added that his members had become "like family" and that keeping the gym open was important for the physical and mental health of many.
"I can't bear to put them through the same struggle they went down in the first lockdown," he said.
"I'm doing the right thing. If I felt even a little bit unsure that I wasn't doing the right thing, then I wouldn't do it.
"But I'm so sure with all my heart, that I'm doing the right thing.
"Until the government provides conclusive evidence that we should close down, we will remain open and continue to serve our customers safely."
Council enforcement officers are expected to force entry to the premises today in an effort to secure its closure.
A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: "Police have attended Zone Gym in Coburg Road, N22, on a number of occasions in the past week to support council officers who are engaging with the business owners in relation to the enforcement of Covid regulations."