A GYM was fined for flouting lockdown rules after owners failed to convince covid-patrols thay were elite athletes in training.

The Bolton-based gym was one of three local businesses to be fined for operating illegally during this current second lockdown.

A shisha bar and a sport facility also received fines from Bolton Council, which is not naming any of the businesses.

Town hall chiefs say that whilst the majority of businesses have complied with the rules, enforcement teams have faced issues in recent weeks with some gyms and sports facilities continuing to operate, along with a number of shisha bars.

When police and trading standards visited one gym, the owners claimed to be elite athletes who were allowed to train under the lockdown rules.

But after failing to provide evidence, a second visit resulted in the issuing of a £1,000 fixed penalty notice.

The owner of one shisha bar has been issued with two fines totalling £3,000 after officers found customers visiting the premises illegally.

The breaches were captured on CCTV and in one case as many as 50 people were seen entering the shisha bar. The owner was tracked down to an address in Salford.

Greater Manchester Police and Bolton Council enforcement officers have been responding to reports from the public since the second national lockdown began on November 5.

Most non-essential retail businesses and hospitality venues have closed their doors after the government brought in strict new measures to deal with rising cases of covid-19.

Firms which continue to operate illegally during the lockdown face an initial £1,000 for a first offence – with fines doubling for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £16,000.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environment Regulatory Services, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, said: “Our enforcement teams have been working closely with the police during the lockdown to ensure businesses and residents understand and comply with the rules.

“The vast majority of people across the borough have worked hard and made great sacrifices to bring the infection rate down. Rates are starting to fall, which means we can all hopefully spend Christmas with our loved ones.

“Unfortunately, there are a small number who are choosing to ignore the rules. I understand it is difficult for businesses whose livelihoods have been impacted but we need everyone to keep doing their bit to keep the rates down.

“We have a number of other gyms and shisha bars on our radar at the moment and we won’t hesitate to take action if there are breaches of the regulations.”

Chief Inspector Nicola Williams of GMP's Bolton Division added: "In this current climate it is extremely difficult for our hospitality venues and we sincerely appreciate the effort that the majority have already taken to ensure they are Covid compliant.

"Unfortunately, in some cases and despite the engagement work that my officers have done alongside the local authority, we have had to fine establishments for breaching these regulations.

“We want to ensure that all premises understand that we are working in partnership with the council to track and gather appropriate evidence to issue fines and take further action where necessary.

"It has been a difficult year however these restrictions have been put in place to protect the health and welfare of our communities, and as such as we must all play our part in keeping to them to get through this pandemic."