An audience member of a live performance in England was taken by police on Tuesday night after he declined to wear a mask properly and refused to be removed by security.
The Metropolitan Police said the man was arrested “in order to prevent a breach of the peace” and later “de-arrested and given words of advice.”
It came as the mask mandate in theatres—reintroduced by the UK government in a bid to stem the spread of the Omicron CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant—came into effect on Friday.
Face covering is now legally required in most indoor settings and public transport in England, except in places where mask-wearing is not practical, such as restaurants and pubs where people eat and drink, or gyms and nightclubs where people do exercises and dance. The exemption also includes singing when it’s reasonably necessary for someone to sing, such as a choir concert, rehearsal, or a service.
Police are authorised to issue a £200 ($266) fine for the first offence, and the fine will keep doubling for subsequent offences, with a cap of £6,400 ($8.525).
According to The Telegraph, Adam Kay, an NHS doctor-turned best-selling author and comedian, paused his show on Tuesday night to ask a man in the audience to put his mask on properly a number of times, and other audience members also joined in, “jeering and slow handclapping.”
The newspaper said the audience member told Kay he didn’t have to wear a mask because he was eating and drinking, and refused to leave when Kay asked theatre security to remove him.
“When he refused to comply the show was stopped, Dr. Kay was escorted offstage and the man was handcuffed and removed from the auditorium by four police officers,” the report said.
In a statement to The Telegraph, Kay said the man “was proudly wearing his mask around his chin,” and “became extremely disruptive and rude to theatre staff” after being asked to wear it “more appropriately.”
“He told theatre staff that they’d have to call the police to stop his disruptive behaviour, which they eventually had no option but to do. He asked me repeatedly to ‘Watch the videos of Neil Oliver,’ which I won’t,” Kay said.
On Nov. 27, when mask-wearing was not yet mandated by law in theatres, Kay wrote on Twitter saying it was “now MANDATORY to wear a mask” at one of his shows, and invited other stage performers to do the same.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, the Met said officers received “reports of a man causing a disturbance at a theatre in High Street, Kingston” at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Officers attended and arrested the man in order to prevent a breach of the peace. He was later de-arrested and given words of advice,” the statement reads.