he owner of a west London venue has been fined £10,000 after being caught flouting Covid-19 restrictions by hosting wedding receptions.
The Tudor Rose in Southall was shut down for three months after police found guests hugging and kissing as they gathered for the bride and groom’s first dance.
Met officers said they were “shocked” at the scene they came across on October 13 last year, just a fortnight after the venue had been warned about another wedding reception which appeared to be breaking the rules.
PC Neil Wilkinson told Westminster magistrates court he estimated there were 150 people inside the venue when police arrived, with no signs of social distancing or masks being worn.
“When I first saw the spectacle it really shocked me to see that many people, given the current circumstances that the COVID pandemic has caused”, PC Omar Sbai said in a statement.
“Most of them were standing up huddled in a tight space, dancing, hugging and kissing each other as large amounts appeared to be drinking alcohol.
“Loud music was being played inside the hall and I could barely hear myself when I said ‘JESUS CHRIST’.”
Velma Cooke, 55, was identified as the owner of the Tudor Rose, and when questioned by police she suggested that three separate parties of 15 were taking place.
PC Sbai said Cooke insisted 45 people were in the venue, spread across three floors, though she conceded they “might be a few people over” and said everyone had congregated on one floor for the wedded couple’s first dance.
“There was no social distancing in the venue”, said PC Wilkinson.
“I could see about 100 people on the dance floor, people were walking around from table to table and all mixing.
“None of the staff appeared to be engaging with the customers asking them to social distance or asking them to put on a mask.
“There was clearly no table service and a number of people were buying drinks from the bar. As we were walking around no one seemed to care about the current government guidelines.”
Officers said they believed the wedding was being thrown by members of the traveler community, and was eventually reduced down to just 15 people including the bride and groom.
An Ealing Council licensing panel ordered a shutdown of the Tudor Rose on October 23 last year, ten days after the wedding party and after they were told of the second Covid-19 regulation breach on September 30.
The closure was extended to three months in November last year, amid police fears of further offences.
Cooke has now been prosecuted for breaking the regulations, and must pay a £10,000 fine as well as £290 in court costs and fees.
She did not enter a plea or take part in the court process, and was convicted and sentenced through the Single Justice Procedure.
At the licensing hearing, she admitted through her lawyer that the rules had been broken.