Up to 100 diners are quizzed by police after officers were called to ‘wedding party’ at Indian restaurant in Birmingham in breach of Covid rules
- Police called to Badshah Palace in Great Barr to reports ‘large number’ of guests
- West Midlands Police found some of guests were in ‘wedding attire’ at the venue
- Restaurant owner insisted majority of diners told police they were out for a meal
Up to 100 diners have been quizzed by police after officers were called to reports of a ‘wedding party’ at an Indian restaurant – in breach of Covid-19 rules.
A ‘large number of vehicles and guests’ were reported to be at the Badshah Palace in Great Barr, Birmingham at around 9pm on Sunday.
Some of those guests were in ‘wedding attire’, West Midlands Police said.
Mohammed Rashid, who owns the Badshah Palace, insisted most of those who spoke to police told officers they were out for a meal, while a few guests who did not speak good English referred to it as a wedding.
He added the booking was made by one guest on behalf of other families, with a range of table sizes requested.
The force said it reminded the owners that it is illegal to host large gatherings, parties or wedding receptions under coronavirus rules, adding it is now in contact with local authorities over alleged breaches.
A ‘large number of vehicles and guests’ were reported to be at the Badshah Palace (pictured) in Great Barr, Birmingham at around 9pm on Sunday
It comes as Birmingham could be forced into lockdown today as ministers meet to discuss plans to tackle the city’s spiralling Covid-19 outbreak.
Figures show the infection rate has more than doubled over the past fortnight, with around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people — up from just 11 in the first week of August.
Speaking of the incident on Sunday, Mr Rashid said: ‘This is a restaurant, I am allowed to take bookings, and that is what happened. I am operating my restaurant legitimately.
‘Our banqueting hall has been closed since March; our restaurant is allowed to open under the guidance, we abide by all the regulations.
‘The banqueting industry is frustrated that we are not able to open but restaurants are, and we are abiding by the rules.
‘I feel I am being singled out – plenty of restaurants are open, people are queueing to get in to venues on Star City and Ladypool Road, standing close together, and making lots of money, and nobody cares.
Official figures show the city of Birmingham’s infection rate has more than doubled over the past fortnight, with around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people — up from just 11 in the first week of August
Birmingham (pictured, the city centre) could be forced into lockdown today as ministers meet to discuss plans to tackle the city’s spiralling Covid-19 outbreak
‘Two of the families who were there [on Sunday night] left without paying, they felt intimidated, and people were really upset with us.
‘Some came from quite a distance away and blamed us for their night being disrupted.
‘We have £150,000 overheads to meet, and this action will lose me business.’
Of the police arriving to investigate, Mr Rashid claimed: ‘They are wielding their power. I have had three visits and it looks like I am being racially aggravated.
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The infection rate is how many cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in the district in the week ending August 11 – the most up-to-date figures from Public Health England.
‘This type of incident adds to concern about how the rules are being enforced, and where.
‘Everything is above the law here. It is very frustrating. There is murder and violence going on out there and the police are here instead.’
West Midlands Police insisted there is ‘no foundation to suggest’ the force’s actions at Badshah Palace ‘were in any way racially motivated.’
A spokesman said: ‘We were alerted at 9pm on Sunday to a large number of vehicles and guests at Badshah Palace in Walsall Road, Birmingham.
‘There were concerns a large gathering was taking place in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.
‘Officers attended and found up to 100 guests, some of whom were in wedding attire. They gathered evidence from attendees and recorded the layout of the room on body-worn cameras.
‘Venue owners were reminded that under Covid-19 legislation it is illegal to host large gatherings, parties or wedding receptions.
‘Our licensing unit is now liaising with the local authority over the alleged Covid-19 breaches.
‘This was an isolated incident and, on the whole, hospitality establishments are acting responsibly and abiding by Covid-19 guidelines.’
The alleged wedding party came amid concerns that licensed and regulated venues across Birmingham are hosting larger gatherings than are permitted in defiance of new restrictions.
Police, licensing and environmental health officials have attended several venues over the past fortnight and have gathered evidence with a view to ‘taking further action’.
Birmingham is at risk of being forced into a lockdown today, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock reportedly chaired a ‘gold command meeting’ this morning with council bosses and Public Health England.
Birmingham City Council’s leader Ian Ward told the Local Government Chronicle that Mr Hancock would chair the meeting today.
He said: ‘We are trying to avoid a local lockdown for obvious reasons – we don’t want to hurt the local economy. But there are no easy answers.
‘We are talking to government about a plan for dealing with the spike in cases. The difficulty is there is nothing we can easily point as being the cause.
‘There is no business with a big outbreak – although there are a number of businesses with small outbreaks across the city. The maximum has been six cases in one location.’
Mr Ward revealed the council will ask the government to provide more walk-in and drive-in test centres across the city.
Birmingham is not currently on Public Health England’s coronavirus watchlist, which last Friday released its list of 29 hot-spots.
But figures show the city’s infection rate has more than doubled over the past fortnight, with around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people — up from just 11 in the first week of August.
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