A GYM in Hartlepool has been ordered to close with immediate effect after operating in defiance of Covid-19 regulations.

Xtreme Fitness on the Longhill Industrial Estate was served with a Closure Notice earlier today (Tuesday) in a joint operation carried out by Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Police.

Under current lockdown restrictions, all gyms are required to be closed, but Xtreme Fitness has remained open.

The owner, Edmund Ellwood, has been allowing members of the public to exercise there as a protest against the rules.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “The Council has on a number of occasions advised the owner of Xtreme Fitness that his gym must be closed in order to protect public health during the current pandemic but he has refused to comply with the law.

“As such, we have been left with no alternative other than to serve a Closure Notice requiring the premises to close immediately.

“In addition, an application has been made to Teesside Magistrates Court for a Closure Order that can require the premises to remain closed for up to three months. The application is due to be heard on Thursday. Anyone who breaches a Closure Notice or a Closure Order can face imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

“The Council fully understands the pressures that the current, and previous, lockdowns are having on the community and that activities, such as exercise, are important for people’s physical and mental health. However, preventing the spread of the virus, which has claimed over 100,000 lives in the UK, must be our priority and therefore we will not hesitate to take whatever action is required to protect public health.”

Inspector Tony Cross from Cleveland Police said: “We have worked in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council to gather evidence to serve this Closure Notice today. We’re sympathetic to the current situation of business owners and the challenges that they face, but the rules are clear, and gyms have been ordered to close under the current coronavirus legislation. We will continue to work with the local authority to deal with anyone who flouts the order that is in place using the powers available to us.”