The owner of a Bristol events venue has been given a £10,000 fine for facilitating a gathering in breach of COVID-19 regulations.
Officers found dozens of people inside the Jack of Diamonds on West Street on Thursday, less than a week after issuing the owner with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice for operating past the 10pm curfew – a breach which also prompted the council to issue the venue with a direction to cease services.
It comes as £1,000 fines were also given to a pub in Taunton and a man in Thornbury who failed to self-isolate after being notified by Test and Trace and £200 fines were handed out following house parties in Weston-super-Mare and West Huntspill at the weekend.
Enquiries are also ongoing into a rave attended by up to 700 people in Yate on Saturday night. Eight people have so far been arrested in connection with the incident and officers continue to review evidence before determining what action to take.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cullen said: “It’s truly shameful the level of disregard some people continue to show not just for themselves or the law but for other members of society.
“Officers gave multiple warnings to the Jack of Diamonds and issued the owner with a £1,000 fine which is certainly not an insignificant amount of money, yet this clearly had no impact whatsoever.
“The owner continued to run his establishment as nightclub, providing alcohol to large crowds of people until the early hours of the morning in the most blatant show of contempt for the public health crisis and the health of his community that we have seen.
“Not only was he hosting an event on Thursday, when officers went to hand him his fixed penalty notice on Friday they found him setting up for a Halloween party.”
ACC Cullen added: “What is horrifying about these cases was the attitude shown towards officers who are just doing their job.
“Several officers responding to the rave were injured by revellers throwing missiles, including lit aerosol cans, while both the Racehorse pub in Taunton and the Jack of Diamonds in Bristol made efforts to obstruct police from gaining entry to their venues.
“These people know exactly what they are doing and it is not only wrong but dangerous on multiple levels.”
A total of 33,525 reports of regulation breaches have been recorded since the start of the pandemic with 423 fixed penalty notices have issued by officers.
Forty-four fines have been issued in the past month with officers attending more than 460 breach reports.
ACC Cullen added: “The vast majority of people have stuck to the rules and follow the guidance in place and we’re extremely grateful for this.
“However, as the weekend’s rave, breaches by pubs, house parties and people failing to self-isolate show, the message doesn’t appear to be getting through to everybody.
“The coronavirus legislation is in place to save lives and stop the spread of a virus which has claimed the lives of more than 46,000 people in the UK.
“We know we’re in for a difficult winter and the next few weeks and months are set to be particularly challenging if more restrictions are introduced as expected.
“We will continue to engage with the public as we have done throughout this crisis, explain the restrictions in place and encourage them to comply.
“But let me be clear, we won’t tolerate flagrant breaches of the regulations. We will move more swiftly to enforcement because we simply cannot allow the selfish actions of a few to jeopardise the determined efforts our communities have put in over the past seven months.
“The Government have given us an additional £680,000 to directly tackle the pandemic which we have used to set up a dedicated COVID-19 response team.
“This team will concentrate on dealing with reports of breaches coming in and proactively police areas where problems have previously occurred.
“We are fortunate the number of COVID-19 cases in the South West are not as high as some other parts of the UK, but they are rising and we cannot afford to be complacent.”