Police issue warning after 400 illegal parties over weekend in coronavirus hotspot


Police in Manchester say they were called to more than 400 illegal gatherings as the area is hit by a surge in coronavirus cases.

There were 245 reports of rule breaches made to GMP on Friday, and 198 on Saturday, according to Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey.

Sunday evening was 'slightly quieter', but there were a 'number of incidents', reports the Manchester Evening News.

New laws will come into force across England today that ban social gatherings of more than six people.

The senior officer may cause 'confusion' to residents living in Greater Manchester.

Similar guidelines are already in place across the North West due to a coronavirus spike there and are even stricter than the so-called 'rule of six.'

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey (Image: PUBLICITY PIC)

In Manchester, Trafford, Bury, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford, two households are banned from mixing in homes and gardens.

During the interview on Monday morning, ACC Bailey said: "The rule of six does not supersede the rules that currently exist. The mixing of households that's prohibited in lots of areas - most of our areas bar Stockport and Wigan - still remains.

"The rule of six doesn't come in and mean you can now have six in your house.

"I think that's going to be something that's slightly confusing to people. They might think, 'that's fine now, as long as there's no more than six people, they can come in our house'. That's not the case.

"And likewise outside, whereas perhaps we were gathering in larger numbers than six up until today, that ceases to be the case.

"The rule of six does apply to Greater Manchester in that case", he told host Becky Want.

New anti-Covid measures are coming into force this week across England (Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
Greater Manchester has one of the highest rate of infections in the UK (Image: Manchester Evening News)

He said police had been called to a 'whole range' of gatherings over the weekend including birthday parties and large weddings.

"We are talking about 60 or 70 people at birthday parties. We are talking weddings in excess of 30 or 40 people.

"We are talking student parties where we have multiple households mixing. This is not just young teenagers gathering. This is right across the range, right across Greater Manchester that people are gathering. Sadly some of those events are just going ahead regardless", he said.

On Friday, police posted on social media about  a wedding attended by 100 people in Bolton  - the area with the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK.

Then on Saturday night, police broke up a large illegal gathering with around 60-70 people in Mottram.

Officers were also called to reports of a party in woodland in Wigan.

A mobile coronavirus testing centre in Manchester (Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
A notice advises shoppers to keep their distance at the Spindles Shopping Centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

"Most of those are house parties and gatherings in the private setting where they've exceeded either the households mixing but even in Wigan and Stockport, they are exceeding the numbers that were existing then," ACC Bailey said. 

He described how officers deal with illegal gatherings.

"Our officers are really sensitive to these issues, they know that people are trying to get on with their lives. They are approached at first with trying to get the understanding, and trying to get immediate dispersal of the event.

"Once the events are being dispersed we are giving the fixed penalty notices to those people who organise those events", he added.

He said that when the party is in a licensed premises, police work with the local authority to see if a future closure notice needs to be issued.

ACC Bailey also spoke concerns regarding students returning to universities and colleges in the region over the coming weeks.

"A lot of the students are coming from areas outside of Greater Manchester. So they perhaps aren't aware of the local conditions and restrictions here. So (the universities) have had to update the students on those guidelines, they are getting students to abide by codes of practice and common understandings.

"But students are young people, they still want to come. They still think there's a right to do certain things. We are working with the universit

ies, working with the local authorities to make sure they do understand the rules in Greater Manchester and they abide by them."