A £10,000 fixed penalty notice (FPN) has been issued to the organiser of a wedding party in the Longsight area of Manchester.
Officers were called at 6.55pm on Thursday 24 September to reports of a large gathering at a wedding party at a premise on Stockport Road.
On arrival, around 70 people were present at the gathering and the organiser was handed the £10,000 FPN for the breach of coronavirus legislation – the first issued by Greater Manchester Police.
Despite efforts from responding officers to engage with the organisers and encourage them to abandon the event, the party persisted and attendees initially refused to leave the venue.
A closure notice has been authorised with immediate effect by GMP, Manchester City Council and other relevant authorities meaning that the premises are to remain closed for at least seven days subject to review.
Superintendent Chris Hill, of GMP’s City of Manchester division, said: “This blatant disregard for public health is totally unacceptable and meant we had no alternative but to issue the maximum penalty for breaching the legislation on large gatherings.
“I hope this sends a clear message to both individuals and licensed premises that there is zero tolerance for the organisation of these kinds of events without permission from local authority, and we will respond in the necessary way to reports of such incidents.
“We continue to work in close proximity with Manchester City Council and other local partners to ensure that businesses and licensed premises are not compromising the health of the community by putting profit first.
“This is a challenging time for all of us but we have to ensure we are working together to reduce the risk posed by the spread of COVID-19 and while we thank the majority for continuing to do so, we will carry on enforcing the legislation where necessary against the minority who aren’t.”
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have worked alongside our partners in GMP to ensure the safety of residents in Manchester. From the outset we have understood how difficult the changing restrictions have been for premises and have worked with them to ensure that safety standards are in place.
“However, in this case it was clear that immediate enforcement action had to be taken. For so many people to be congregating in this manner flies in the face of every single public health message we have been making for more than six months. It is deeply concerning that the owner allowed such a reckless event to take place.
“As a Council we fully support the action taken by GMP and we will also take further action of our own to prevent this happening again.”