POLICE broke up two wedding receptions with 150 “selfish” guests in locked-down Blackburn and Greater Manchester yesterday.
Officers in Blackburn found more than 100 guests at a restaurant party, while 50 guests attended a marquee bash in Greater Manchester.
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Both areas are within the local lockdown where people are benned from meeting other households indoors.
Abdul Toheed, manager of Waheed’s Buffet and Banqueting Hall in Blackburn, apologised – but said “I cannot stop people turning up at the restaurant wanting to eat”.
He wrote on Facebook: “Last night we had a group who were here and we had a full track and trace system in place as they entered which we shared the police. There was no stage set-up and no decorations.
“It is actually busier here from a Monday to a Wednesday when we have the ‘Eat Out to help Out’ Scheme running.
“I don’t see the police or anyone making a fuss then?
“We were staffing it the same way with hand sanitisers at the entrance and other measures as we would have during the week.”
Police also shut down a wedding in Whalley Range, in Manchester.
That was one of 54 reported coronavirus breaches between 3pm and 11pm on Sunday in Greater Manchester, police said.
Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Pilling said: “Following large gatherings on both Friday and Saturday night, we have had to attend further events yesterday evening.
“We’ve been really open with the public about the pressure these calls place on already stretched and limited resources and I really need people to understand what is at stake here.
“Can you imagine a vulnerable loved one not being able to get through to 999 when in an emergency, because our phone lines are tied up with people reporting illegal parties? It’s this serious.
“I feel we’ve been really fair with the public, engaging and explaining with them and only enforcing as a last resort.
“However, these blatant breaches continue and we owe it to our communities to thoroughly investigate these types of reports and prosecute those involved. We will continue to enforce when there is a blatant disregard for the rules.
“We understand that the vast majority of people across Greater Manchester are doing the right thing and it’s incredibly disappointing that these people are being continuously let down by a small majority, who are selfishly flouting the very guidance that is there to keep us safe.”
Tougher lockdown restrictions were reintroduced in Greater Manchester and other parts of northern England on July 31, following an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.
However Blackburn with Darwen still has one of the highest rates of new cases of coronavirus.
In the week to August 12, there were 141 new cases recorded.
That works out at about 94 cases per 100,000 residents in the latest week.
The official data for England released on Sunday shows only Northampton, which recorded hundreds of cases following an outbreak at a sandwich factory, and Oldham currently have higher rates of new infections.
Current “vital” rules on gatherings in the North West will remain in place “to tackle the spread of the disease”, the Department of Health and Social Care said on Friday.
Oldham could soon face a full lockdown unless people reduce their social contact.
Meanwhile residents in Pendle, in Lancashire, were urged to take a Covid-19 test, even if they were not showing any symptoms, after the area reported the highest number of cases in the country.
People in Leicester remain banned from meeting other households in homes and gardens after it was the first city to be put under a local lockdown on June 29.