TWO businesses in Darlington, a gym and a carpet store, have been handed notices after not closing during the second Covid lockdown - but the gym remains open.

Enforcement action has been taken against Carpetright and TUFF Gym after they were found flouting the lockdown restrictions and remained open.

But TUFF Gym, in Chatsworth Terrace, could face a fine or prosecution as it still refuses to close.

All non-essential businesses were ordered to close on Thursday, November 5.

The gym was caught flouting the rules after complaints from local residents and a visit from the police. 

On Tuesday, November 10, Durham Police found TUFF Gym open to the public. Staff refused to close when asked by officers. 

Staff members had previously shared posts on social media indicating that the gym would stay open.

A prohibition notice was served on the owner on Wednesday, November 11, which formally means the gym must close.

But the gym still open on Wednesday night - after the notice was served. 

The council and the police are working together to decide on what action to take against the gym, which could include Fixed Penalty Notices or prosecution.

Meanwhile, the Carpetright store on Yarm Road Retail Park remained open a day after lockdown came into force.

When visited by Darlington Borough Council’s Environmental Health team on Friday, November 6, staff had a letter from head office claiming the chain was exempt from restrictions. 

The letter, which the store was given in case of an enforcement visit, claimed the company was exempt from lockdown regulations as it was a building merchant and not a carpet retailer.

Representatives from the council disagreed and formally closed the store, which has not tried to reopen.

Similar actions have been taken on Carpetright stores by in other local authorities.

Councillor Kevin Nicholson, cabinet member for health and housing, said “I know how difficult this national lockdown is for everyone and I do recognise how important exercise is for people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“However, these regulations are in force to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reduce the risk of community transmission and to protect our NHS.

“We cannot permit businesses and individuals to break the law which is in place to keep us all safe.

"Our officers use enforcement action as a last resort - in both cases we were alerted to the activities in the two premises by concerned members of the public and we made attempts to engage with the company owners, which regrettably did not prove successful.

“We will not hesitate to act where there is any sign that a business – whether a big national chain or a local independent – is flouting the lockdown restrictions.”

Financial support including grants worth up to £3,000 per month is available for businesses forced to close in England, and there is the extended furlough scheme to support employers to pay their staff.