Champion bodybuilder who kept gym open threatened with jail under lockdown rules
A champion bodybuilder has been told he could go to jail if he keeps his gym open in the coronavirus lockdown.
Eddy Ellwood, 56, has been keeping Xtreme Fitness in Hartlepool open despite regulations forcing gyms to shut.
He has said his business is vital to people's mental health during "their time of darkness".
But he was taken to court on Thursday by Hartlepool Borough Council, where District Judge Timothy Capstick ordered it to shut for three months and said if he defied it, Ellwood risked a fine or prison.
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The hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told Ellwood agreed to the order.
Speaking outside, he told reporters: "The whole reason for today was to show our objection to the draconian rules being imposed on myself and others who are defending the vulnerable, those with mental illness, those who see the gym as their escape and relief from their everyday struggles and anxieties and negative impulses.
"The gym is their social worker, the gym is their mental health nurse and the gym is their comfort blanket in their time of darkness and we were just there to try and help those in the darkness."
He has called his decision to stay open a "peaceful protest".
Ellwood has been told he can still go into the gym to undertake maintenance, and local authority representatives also have permission to go in if necessary.
The order runs until 10 May.
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