Police on Saturday night raided a party with about 150 people in Birmingham, and discovered another venue hosting a makeshift bar dubbed The Covid Arms.
About 70 people at the party received fixed penalty notices of £200 ($279) each, and the DJ could be issued a £10,000 ($13,938) fine, West Midlands Police said.
It’s believed that around 50 people fled the building—located near an area known as The Jewellery Quarter in central Birmingham—when police arrived in the early hours of Sunday, including fleeing via the roof, according to thermal images from police drones.
West Midlands Police said that they were aware that a bar had been set up in the building, and that officers forced their way in after seeing taxis dropping people off at the building.
One officer suffered a minor injury when people smashed open a door to breakout, and some officers were pelted with bottles, the police said.
“It’s unacceptable that our officers came under attack, and that one suffered a minor injury, just for doing their job and enforcing laws that are in place to keep us all safe,” Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said in a statement.
🎶 This is the moment our officers found a packed nightclub – boasting a VIP area and DJ – which had been illegally set up near Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
Officers had bottles thrown at them as they moved to break up the gathering.
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) February 15, 2021
On the same night, the West Midlands Police officers found that a garage workshop in Dudley Port had also been converted into a bar, with a sign on the wall that reads “The Covid Arms.”
The police said they gave the owner a £1,000 ($1,394) fine, but let the other 12 people go.
“While there’s much to be hopeful of in terms of the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, people must remember that we are still in lockdown and the virus is still a real threat to communities across the West Midlands,” he said.
“We thank those people who are supporting our efforts to keep the public safe by sticking to the rules and staying home. They are saving lives.”
England has been under the third national lockdown since Jan. 6. Pubs and bars are not allowed to open, along with other businesses that are deemed “non-essential.”
As the government reached its target to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups, leaders of the beer and pub sector have been among the voices demanding that the government fix a date for reopening. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday declined to give a date, arguing instead that a “cautious but irreversible” plan would be preferable.
Mary Clark and Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.