A Dublin gym owner has defended his refusal to close his business during lockdown - saying he plans to keep it open as long as he possibly can.
Westside Gym in Blanchardstown yesterday announced that they plan to stay open, despite all gyms being told to close under the level five restrictions which come into effect from midnight.
Over 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for gyms to be designated an essential service, but gyms have not made the Government list of businesses allowed remain open.
Speaking on Lunchtime Live, Westside Gym owner Simon Murphy said he's refusing to close as he believes exercising is an essential part of people's day and positive for their mental health.
He also pointed to gyms in Liverpool which refused to close under restrictions - with officials ultimately deciding to allow them remain open.
He argued: “We’ve seen in the UK that a similar stance has been taken by gyms with positive effect.
"We’re not just trying to fly in the face of Government regulations - we just don’t agree with this in principle.
"It’s on those grounds we’re taking the stance that we’re taking."
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Dearest members of the Westside Crew We know that you have been anxiously awaiting our response to last nights announcement by the Taoiseach. We are saddened that our government has not listened to the voice of the Irish people. There was not one mention of the importance of exercise in maintaining positive mental health. That being said, I'm sure you are wondering what we are planning to do at Westside gym. Our plan is simple, we plan to stay open. We did not broadcast this on social media last night and the reason for this was because we are trying to put our members first. We felt the less attention we drew to this, the longer we could stay open. We completely disagree with the government recommendations, but we felt that Westside gym would be standing alone as there are other gyms who would not join in this cause. However, we must follow our heart on this one. Ultimately, we want to do whats best for our members and their mental health. We have just reinvested again in our biggest ever upgrade here at the gym, which has already been paid in full. As a local business, We would not be in a position to freeze memberships again for a second time. Therefore, the show must go on. The doors will be open at Westside and we will be following our usual safety guidelines and procedures. If you feel personally vulnerable at these times, please stay at home. If you want to keep training, our staff will be here for you. Our 'government' have shown a total disregard for your mental health. The rising number of Covid-19 cases are NOT coming from gyms and we think it is very unfair that this has been overlooked. Dark days, dark nights and dark minds. Please mind your mental health in these times. Anything we can do to help, please let us know. Westside will remain open, alone or not, we are here for you. Kind Regards All of the Westside Team ❤ #wearewestside #westsidecrew #irishfitfam #standwithus #irishgyms #inthistogether
Mr Murphy said they’re not advocating for every one to ignore the guidelines, and they're taking 'every precaution' to ensure people can enter and leave safely.
He told Andrea: “We’re not saying it’s business as usual.
“I can only speak on behalf of myself, my gym and my staff - I didn’t make a decision lightly.
“The support is absolutely overwhelming from our immediate community. I understand that out there it could be very divisive."
Asked whether he'd be willing to break the law to remain open, Mr Murphy responded: “I’m prepared to take a stand on exactly what we’ve said we’ve set out to do: provide the service that we said we’re going to do.
“If they’re changing something that incorporates us to have me in contradiction in a law, I accept that as part of the stance I’m taking.
“I’m going to remain open as long as I possibly can.”