Warm shisha pipes a giveaway of COVID rules breach in London

·1 min read

LONDON (Reuters) - Police in London burst in on about 50 people smoking shisha pipes, watching football and playing loud music inside a cafe, a major breach of strict COVID-19 regulations banning any kind of socialising between people from different households.

The group fled when the police arrived, but officers who searched the venue in Wembley, northwest London, found 21 shisha pipes lit and still warm, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Friday. The incident took place on Tuesday.

The owner of the shisha cafe faces a potential fine of 10,000 pounds ($13,700).

"I completely appreciate that 2020 has been a tough year for many of us, but now is not the time for people to start getting relaxed about the rules that have been put in place to help slow and reduce the spread of this virus," said Louis Smith, police commander in the area.

Coronavirus infection rates are soaring in London, where a new variant of COVID-19 that is even more contagious is prevalent. Hospitals are reporting severe strain on their intensive care units, and schools in most of the capital have been ordered to close.

($1 = 0.7313 pounds)

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Kim Coghill)