The owner of an events venue in Bristol has been fined £10,000 for “running his establishment as a nightclub” in breach of coronavirus restrictions, police said.
Avon and Somerset Police said dozens of people were found inside the Jack of Diamonds on West Street on Thursday in “the most blatant show of contempt for the public health crisis” that the force had seen.
Less than a week earlier, the owner had been issued with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice for operating past the 10pm curfew – a breach that prompted the council to direct the venue to cease services.
Steve Cullen, assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, 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 a 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.”
The force said £1,000 fines had also been given to a pub in Taunton and a man in Thornbury who failed to self-isolate after being notified by test and trace.
Fines of £200 were handed out following house parties in Weston-super-Mare and West Huntspill at the weekend.
Officers are investigating a rave attended by up to 700 people in Yate on Saturday, with eight people so far arrested in connection with the incident.
“What is horrifying about these cases was the attitude shown towards officers who are just doing their job,” Mr Cullen added.
“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.”
In total, 33,525 reports of regulation breaches have been recorded by the force since the start of the pandemic, with 423 fixed penalty notices issued.
Over the past month, 44 fines have been issued and officers have attended more than 460 reports of breaches.
Mr Cullen said the “vast majority” of people had followed the rules and officers would continue to “engage with the public” as lockdown measures were introduced.
“But let me be clear, we won’t tolerate flagrant breaches of the regulations,” he said.
“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.”
A dedicated Covid-19 response team has been set up by the force, which will concentrate on dealing with reports of breaches and proactively police areas where issues have previously occurred.