An entire football team have been fined for breaking Covid-19 legislation – by going to the pub together for a pint.
Twelve players were drinking at Wetherspoons pub The Wouldhave in South Tyneside – which is subject to Tier 2 lockdown restrictions – on Sunday (October 18) when a concerned member of staff challenged them.
Josh Robertson, 26, said he was among the players slapped with a £200 for gathering at the pub after playing a game.
Officers arrived and said that the group had lied about their living situation and handed each of them an on the spot fine.
Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton, from Northumbria Police, said: “This group showed a flagrant disregard for the rules which are in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Actions like this undermine the efforts being made by the majority of others in order to protect themselves, their family, friends and wider communities.
“We will continue to work closely with our communities and offer advice to people who have mistakenly broken the restrictions.
“However, as we have made clear, where individuals are choosing to ignore the measures in place, we are committed to taking enforcement action to protect our communities.
“It’s important we all continue to play our part and follow the restrictions.”
But Mr Robertson rejected the claims that they told staff they all lived in the same household.
He told the Mail Online : “Well we went and were told to sit on four separate tables and we ordered food and drinks then obviously the police came.
“But the Wouldhave didn’t warn us or anything or challenge us, they simply waited for us to order drinks and food and then phoned the police on the sly.
“Like we would of understood if we were told when we first went in but no one said anything so it’s wrong that they’ve said they challenged us.”
Mr Roberston also responded to a Facebook post by Northumbria Police about the incident.
He commented: “We didn’t get challenged or anything no-one said anything and no-one said we all lived together what we gonna say we all lived in the big brother house like, we went in and were told to sit on tables of four which we did and eight of them were outside in the beer garden when the fines were issued.
“If they were at risk of getting a fine why didn’t they tell us to leave or refuse entry before letting us sit there and order drinks before phoning the police, but I forgot ya can only get the disease in a pub and not on a football pitch where 22 people are playing a contact sport.”
A spokesperson for Wetherspoons said: “The group had entered the pub and sat down at four separate tables. They then ordered food and drink using the pub’s app.
“Staff check that customers have signed in (track and trace) and whether they are from the same household when they bring food and drink orders to the table or when they do table service.
“When the drinks were brought to the tables a member of staff noticed that members of the group all had the same football shirt on (having taken off their jackets) and asked if they were from the same household.
“They said they were but the member of staff didn’t believe them and told them that the police would be called and if the police came they would be fined.
“The members of the group chose to stay. The police then came and dealt with the matter.”