A gym owner who defied coronavirus lockdown rules by keeping her gym open has been fined more than £1,000.

Michelle Meade-Wyatt was taken to court after customers were found to be using equipment at her gym, The Ripped Gym in Harlow, in November 2020.

Essex Police says The Ripped Gym in Harlow had put out social media posts saying it planned to remain open despite the second national lockdown last autumn.

Harlow Council had spoken to gym staff before the tier two restrictions came into force on November 5 last year and explained they would have to shut, but when the council and and police visited on November 5, the gym was open.

Police say Meade-Wyatt handed an officer a notice claiming the gym was operating under common law but officers explained she was contravening coronavirus legislation and would be issued a fixed penalty notice. However, she refused to give her details, police said, adding she would not accept the fine.

After around 40 minutes, officers felt they had no choice but to arrest Meade-Wyatt for breaching the regulations.

Meade-Wyatt appeared at Southend Magistrates' Court on December 7 where she denied failing to cease carrying on a business that was restricted under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.

Nearly a year on, Meade Wyatt, appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court (November 23) where she admitted the charge. Meade-Wyatt, of Liverpool, was subsequently fined a total of £1,205.

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.

"Harlow Council staff and our officers had made extensive attempts to engage with the gym owner to resolve this situation. Enforcement action could have been avoided entirely but unfortunately we were given no choice but to take the matter to court."

She added: "We know the restrictions have had a major impact on business owners, but the vast majority made sacrifices to keep their customers safe and to comply with the legislation.

"I want to thank the hundreds of business owners who have done this and have kept themselves and others safe to protect the NHS and save lives.

"The small minority who did not follow the rules, as in this case, are selfish and not acting fairly towards those people who were doing the right thing."