Redbridge police insists it took “appropriate action” against an Ilford takeaway fined £1,000 for breaking the 10pm curfew by four minutes.
Staff at BIM’s on Ilford Lane were reportedly “stunned” to learn they had broken the new rules after serving a customer who, the restaurant claims, ordered just before 10pm.
According to a since-deleted tweet from Redbridge MPS, the customer’s receipt was printed at exactly 10pm and “staff were not handing him his food until 10.04pm”.
A statement from the restaurant argued “it would have been reasonable… to receive a verbal warning as opposed to a £1,000 fine, which amounted to an astonishing £250 per minute”.
A Met Police spokesperson said: “Neighbourhood officers had previously engaged with staff at the premises on a number of occasions to explain the new regulations and encourage them to abide by them for the safety of themselves and the local community.
“It is clear that there is a need for everyone to do everything they can to minimise the risk of transmission of what is a potentially deadly disease – that means everyone following the rules.
“Our officers will help people do that and will explain to the public what those regulations are.
“However, they will also be firm and take appropriate action against those that simply refuse to follow the law and who are deliberately placing communities at risk.”
The fine was issued as part of new Operation Pima Covid patrols, where officers respond to reported breaches from either members of the public or other agencies.
A statement from BIM’s claims staff served the customer at 9.58pm, just before curfew, and that his final receipt was printed at 10pm.
It adds: “Our staff were under the impression that if an order was placed before 10 pm it could still be served.
“New rules regarding Covid-19 are being made thick and fast and sometimes it isn’t clear exactly how they should be interpreted.
“Had we served a customer at 10.10pm or even later then, without doubt, this fine would have been fully justified.
“We have always complied with the law and have carefully observed social distancing rules and the wearing of masks. This was just an unfortunate mistake.
“However, we respect the police operation and our staff will continue to abide by the law in future.”