Breach of COVID-19 Restrictions in East London

Almost 40 people breached COVID-19 restrictions after they attended a wedding in Barking. At 07:19pm on Saturday, 5th December, officers were undertaking COVID-19 enforcement patrols in Barking when they discovered loud music playing and lights coming from an address on Creek Road.

Upon entering the address, it soon became clear that the gathering included in excess of 50 guests, including children. It was also immediately apparent that this gathering was a wedding, with the bride and groom at the head of the room on their own table with the rest of the guests sitting around them.

The venue had been decorated with elaborate flowers and white drapes around the whole function room. Members of staff were also employed to serve guests with food. Officers identified the organiser, who was officiating the wedding ceremony, and the pastor of the church. They explained that the gathering was in clear breach of the COVID-19 regulations and immediately shut the wedding down.

Under the current COVID-19 regulations, wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions are only permitted to have 15 attendees. Officers spoke with the bride and groom, whose explanation was that only 15 guests were invited but other people kept on turning up throughout the day with gifts and then stayed for the event. As a result of the breach, 37 people were reported for consideration of a fixed penalty notice. The organiser is also facing a possible £10,000 fine under the COVID-19 regulations.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, BCU commander for East Area, said: ‘I appreciate that some may feel that this action is harsh given the circumstances, but we are still in the midst of a national health crisis and restrictions have been put in place to keep our families, friends and communities safe.’

‘This blatant flouting of the rules puts so many others at risk and is disrespectful to all those across London who have been following guidance and putting a lot of their own lives on hold to support the positive steps being made to reduce COVID-19 infections. If you are planning on holding a large gathering, please think of the wider and long-term repercussions. It may affect the health of those who attend and if caught, it is likely that you will be reported.’