Covid lockdown breaches cost East Durham gym boss nearly £3,000

The boss of a gym who ignored coronavirus lockdown regulations has been fined almost £2,000.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 1:21 pm

Karl Ellwood, who runs Ed’s Gym and Fitness Centre, in Windsor Terrace, Horden, was prosecuted for three offences by Durham County Council after he repeatedly breached health protection regulations.

Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard council officers were first made aware that he was allowing people into the premises to train and use gym equipment during the second national lockdown in November.

The 55-year-old, who runs the gym on behalf of his father, said he was opening twice a day to allow people to train in a peaceful protest and refused a request from officers to keep it closed.

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The gym in Horden

The court heard further breaches were also witnessed in November and again on December 1.

On January 11 – during the third national lockdown – officers from Durham Constabulary witnessed members of the public being allowed to train on the premises and the council issued a prohibition notice.

When officers returned to the premises on January 29, it was found that the notice had been breached and they issued 13 Fixed Penalty Notices to people using the gym.

On February 10, council and police officers revisited the premises, and a further 21 notices were issued.

The court heard that, despite being issued with prohibition notices, Ellwood, of Park Terrace, in Horden, continued to open the gym twice a day and the council successfully obtained a closure order in February which prevented the gym from opening for three months.

Ellwood was issued with a number of penalty notices for the repeated breaches and as a result of these not being paid was taken to court.

Ellwood, who did not appear in court, was fined £660 for each of the three offences and ordered to pay costs of £717.29 and a £190 victim surcharge, totalling £2,887.29.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection services, said afterwards: “We know that the lockdowns were challenging periods for all businesses. However, the restrictions were necessary to reduce the risk and spread of coronavirus and to help keep members of the public safe.

“The vast majority of businesses complied with the restrictions and we hope this case demonstrate that action will be taken against those who act irresponsibly and in breach of health protection regulations.”