A Donegal gym owner says he opened for the mental and physical health of his clients.

A gym owner who opened his doors in December and had them closed last week by Gardaí could be fined €2,500 after he was reported for a breach of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Ivor Farrelly of Limitless Gym and Fitness in Buncrana, Co. Donegal said he made the decision to open in early December when numerous clients contacted him saying they needed access for their mental and physical well-being.

“When we first closed, I got so many messages from people with mental health and physical problems, saying it would mean the world if they could go back to training,” he told the Irish Daily Mail.

“I decided to take a stand because these people really needed my help, and even though I have loans and bills, money wasn’t the reason I chose to reopen. We put strict rules in place with only four people an hour inside. There were plenty of hand sanitisers around and the members wiped down every piece of equipment they touched.”

He now says the potential fine of €2,500 might force him to close permanently however.

“When it gets to court, I may have to pay a fine of €2,500 which will really hit us hard as it’s already a huge struggle to keep up with our bills,” he said.

“It may even mean that my gym will have to close for good.”

Four other members who were present in the gym when it was visited by a member of the Gardaí were also fined €100 each, but Farrelly insists that no “raid” occurred, contrary to reports.

“All that happened was one garda asked me to close under COVID-19 restrictions. She didn’t even enter the premises. I was told that someone had reported me and that my gym was being monitored for a while.

“There were four girls inside at the time who were given a fixed €100 fine, while my case is being sent to the DPP.”

Mr. Farrelly says the restrictions placed on gyms has not been reasonable when compared with the latitude given to other services.

“We have a few shore walks around here with paths as narrow as four foot wide. There are always hundreds of people using it in very close proximity to one another,” he explained.

“The supermarkets are also constantly packed with customers doing their shopping. If they’re allowed so many, I can’t see why I’m not allowed to have just four.”