A wedding venue has been ordered to close and the manager slapped with a £10,000 fine after hosting a reception with 170 guests.
Grand Park Hall in Luton was raided by police on September 23 following reports of crowds breaching Covid-19 restrictions.
At the time, weddings were allowed just 30 guests – a number that has now been reduced to 15.
The venue is the latest in a string of coronavirus-defying parties to be shut down by police – including a 120-person strong wedding party in Telford and a 70-person event in Manchester last week.
Those events also saw organisers slapped with £10,000 for breaking the rules.
Wedding venue Grand Park Hall (pictured) has been ordered to close and the manager slapped with a £10,000 fine after hosting a reception with 170 guests
As if the rule-defying reception in Luton wasn’t enough, police were forced to issue a dispersal notice to reduce crowds that remained in the town once the event was brought to a close.
On Tuesday, Bedfordshire Police issued a £10,000 fixed penalty notice to the manager who was on duty at the time and the venue has now been ordered to close indefinitely by Luton Council.
It will only be allowed to reopen once officials are satisfied it can and will do so safely.
Chief Superintendent John Murphy said: ‘We appreciate these are difficult times and that people getting married will want to celebrate with friends and loved ones – however, we are in the middle of a pandemic so it is imperative that people follow the rules which are there to help stop the spread of the virus and to keep everybody safe.
‘This case was a flagrant disregard of the rules and risked undoing all of the good work that is being done by the majority of people. It also showed a lack of respect for all those who have postponed wedding celebrations or have stuck to smaller numbers.
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‘Our approach has always been to engage with people to explain the rules. We don’t take enforcement action lightly, however, attending officers repeatedly asked this venue to close down and remove attendees immediately. When they failed to do so we were left with little choice but to proceed with taking firmer action.
‘I would like to thank all of those people who have been sticking to the rules. It is such a difficult time for all of us, but if we all do our bit hopefully we will continue to protect the NHS and keep our loved ones safe.’
He said officers had repeatedly asked the venue to close down and tell guests to leave, and they had been forced to take action when it failed to do so.
Councillor Jacqui Burnett, portfolio holder in charge of enforcement in Luton, said: ‘This was a shocking and dangerous breach of the Covid-19 restrictions at a time where we are seeing a concerning rise in cases both nationally and locally.’
She added: ‘I’m fully supportive of the punishments which have been handed out given the threat that the event had on public health.
‘We are prepared to use the powers we have to protect and save the lives of every Luton resident.’
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It comes after told dozens of well wishers crammed into a Swansea restaurant for a wedding reception to move along earlier this month
Pictures from the night appear to show people not social distancing and crammed into Adelina’s Bar and Kitchen, Mumbles Road, on September 17
Grand Park Hall has been approached for comment.
It comes after told dozens of well wishers crammed into a Swansea restaurant for a wedding reception to move along earlier this month.
Pictures from the night appear to show people not social distancing and crammed into Adelina’s Bar and Kitchen, Mumbles Road, on September 17.
Officers were called to the scene and they forced everyone who was there to leave.
Swansea Council has now issued an immediate closure notice to the owners for failing to protect customers and the venue now has a fortnight to put new measures in place – including controlled use of toilets and two-metre social distancing.
A spokesperson for Adelina’s Bar and Kitchen told The Sun staff had become ‘overwhelmed’ by the situation.
Staff at the restaurant say they only took a booking for 25 people for the wedding reception.
Last Friday, 120 people attended a wedding in Telford, Shropshire, which police shut down at 5pm
They claim to be unaware of bookings taken in other parts of the restaurant for the same party.
The spokesperson said: ‘We only had six members of staff on for the night, as things started to get slightly out of hand the staff got overwhelmed.
‘At this point the owner had been called who was on his way to ask everyone to leave.
‘Before the owner could arrive though the police had attended the scene.
‘We would like to thank all the police that attended that night and the council officers who came to the premises the next day.
‘We would also like to take this chance to apologise for what took place in our restaurant as it wasn’t our intention at all.
‘We will be putting in much more strict coronavirus prevention measures in place in the future.’
A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said: ‘South Wales Police responded to a report of a gathering at the Adelina’s Bar and Kitchen at approximately 7.10pm on Thursday.
‘Upon arrival officers found large number of people in attendance at a private function.
‘The function was shut down and all attendees ordered to leave.
‘Further enforcement action by South Wales Police and Swansea Council is currently being considered.’
Last Friday, 120 people attended a wedding in Telford, Shropshire, which police shut down at 5pm.
The organisers have been fined £10,000 for breaching Covid-19 rules.
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police shut down a wedding with 70 guests on Friday night.
Organisers in this event also saw a £10,000 fine.