Police have fined a gym owner who refused to close his business on the first day of Tier 3 restrictions in Merseyside.
A gym based in Wirral is the first to be fined after failing to comply with the tough new Tier 3 restrictions.
Liverpool City Region was placed in Tier 3 earlier this week, which sees the closure of gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos from yesterday, Wednesday October 14th.
However, owner of Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Nick Whitcombe defied the new rules, keeping his gym open because there ‘won’t [be a gym] to come back to’ if he didn’t.
A video of police standing guard among gym members using the equipment has been shared widely on social media.
Body Tech Fitness is one of two gyms in the Wirral that said they would stay open despite the new rules.
Mr Whitcombe shared a video on Instagram where he said: “We have just received our first £1,000 fine at Body Tech.
“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, came back this afternoon. Orders from their top boss to issue a fine straight away.
“They’ve told us close immediately or face 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 is £1,000, they can come back in three hours issue £2,000, three hours after that £4,000.”
In a previous video where Mr Whitcombe announced his refusal to close the gym, he said: “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 explained that gyms are vital for ‘our physical and mental health’, adding: “Keep fighting the good fight. The gyms need to stay open.”
A petition with over 100,000 signatures has raised £28,800 on a Crowdfunding page to ‘save the gyms’ in the North West.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Mr Whitcombe said that the police were ‘fair and polite’.
He added: “I appreciate that they’re only doing their job and we treated them with equal respect as I’m sure the sergeant will confirm.”
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.”
Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens
The violence spilled out into the street
A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.
Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.
The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.
Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.
Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.
Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.
This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.
Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.
And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.
Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June
Do you agree?
Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.
In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.
One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.
Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.
“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”
According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.
Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.
He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.
Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).
There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.
The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.
“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”
It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.
“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”
Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters
It follows weeks of allegations against the PM
According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.
The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.
The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him.
“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections.
“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”
The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.
However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.
Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.
Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.