A gym owner who defied coronavirus restrictions by keeping a venue open during England’s second national lockdown has been taken to court and fined.
Police said the opening of The Ripped Gym in Harlow in Essex in November last year was a blatant breach of legislation and put people’s lives at risk.
In police bodycam footage, 46-year-old owner Michelle Meade-Wyatt told officers who attended the gym that she did not “consent to any fines”.
She refused to provide her details and added: “I’m a living woman and we’re under common law.”
An officer warned her she would be arrested and that the matter would be dealt with under Covid-19 legislation.
Essex Police said that “after around 40 minutes of trying to engage with her, officers felt they had no choice but to arrest her for breaching the regulations”.
The force said that Meade-Wyatt, of Liverpool, admitted at Colchester Magistrates’ Court to breaching Covid-19 restrictions.
She pleaded guilty to failing to cease carrying on a business that was restricted under the Health Protection ( Coronavirus ) Regulations 2020, police said.
She was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £1,205 at the hearing on November 23.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan said: “This case is a very clear example of a blatant breach of the legislation, which not only put people’s health at risk, but at a time when infection rates were rising.”
She said that officers and council staff had “made extensive attempts to engage with the gym owner to resolve this situation”.
Meade-Wyatt told the PA news agency: “I stayed open because the members were committing suicide.”
She said she only admitted the charge after there was a “slight changing of wording”.
Meade-Wyatt claimed that after her arrest she was held for “just under 30 hours”, and she plans to take civil action against the force.