English gyms offer a new workout: Civil disobedience.

When Britons first faced tough coronavirus restrictions in March, compliance was high as millions stayed at home, emerging only to shop for food, to exercise briefly or — once a week — applaud health care workers.

Current restrictions are less stringent than in March (schools and universities are open), but in a country with one of Europe’s highest Covid-19 death rates, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said they are vital to prevent the National Health Service from being overwhelmed.

Midway through the new lockdown in England, though, support is more patchy and the consensus is fragmenting. Many gym owners are among those resisting the new restrictions.

The resistance is not confined just to gyms, which are supposed to be closed to adults until the scheduled end of the current lockdown on Dec. 2. In recent weeks fines have been issued to hundreds of Britons, including people partying on a moored boat in Liverpool and seven women caught traveling in a stretch limousine in the West Midlands.

Rebel gym owners say they are staying open on principle and to help people stay healthy, rather than for financial reasons.

According to one set of official figures, gyms rank below secondary schools, pubs and restaurants, and supermarkets (but above care homes and universities) as places identified as a possible source of infection. Fitness centers vary hugely in terms of available space and ventilation, though participants in martial arts classes are unlikely to observe social distancing.

In the United States, gyms in many areas have been allowed to remain open, although some states have placed limits on their operations.

In England, because responsibility for enforcing the lockdown is split between local municipalities and the police — and Covid-19 regulations give neither an automatic right to enter property — some gyms have played a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities, keeping them at bay and disputing legal orders.

Some have overplayed their hand, however, perhaps spurred by social media posts erroneously suggesting that they can cite common law or even Magna Carta of 1215 (the medieval document that inspired protections for cherished liberties) to resist the power of the state.

Source: Read Full Article