Police have voiced “disappointment” that over 150 penalties had to be imposed as people across Northern Ireland insisted on holding house parties to see in the New Year.
And they have warned that they will continue to enforce the regulations over the next five weeks during the New Year lockdown.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan explained that in relation to breaches of the health regulations, enforcement action was taken by officers right across Northern Ireland.
In all, 126 Cov4 £200 fines and 34 Cov2 prohibition notices were issued in respect of house parties.
And two Cov5 penalty notices were also issued in respect of businesses continuing to operate in breach of the regulations.
ACC McEwan said: “It’s really disappointing that despite the health crisis due to the deadly virus, there were still people last night who deliberately decided to breach the regulations and put themselves and others at risk.
“I do want to take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of people who are being responsible, and who are doing their bit and continuing to take this virus seriously as we navigate this pandemic.
“It is vitally important that people take the time to understand what is and is not permitted under the new regulations, what is advised by way of guidance, and to take personal responsibility for stopping the spread of this virus.
“We will continue with our partnership approach, working closely with our colleagues at the Department of Health, Public Health Agency and the Northern Ireland Executive as we progress through this period.
“Where people do not follow the health protection rRegulations, our approach will remain the same we will engage with people first explaining the guidance and the law and encourage people to do the right thing.
“However, where we are left with no choice but to enforce, we will take this measure in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities and help protect our NHS.”
ACC McEwan said despite the new health regulation restrictions in place, officers had “a really busy night across Northern Ireland”.
He explained: “Between 8pm on New Year’s Eve to 8am this morning, we received 1,004 calls for service in relation to reports of anti-social behaviour, assault, concern for safety, criminal damage, missing persons and road traffic collisions.
ACC McEwan added: “Of particular concern was the number of domestic abuse incidents and, in the last 24 hours, we received reports of 86 incidents of domestic abuse from homes across Northern Ireland. As a result of this, police made 38 arrests across Northern Ireland.
“Sadly, we know domestic abuse doesn’t only occur at Christmas, that it happens all year round. Historically, however, figures show over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise.
“We also know that during this pandemic more people have been, and will continue to, spend more time at home than they usually would. The combined impact of this pandemic and the festive season will have made it really tough for people experiencing abuse and, in some situations, even worse.
“This is a challenging time for everyone, but the help we can offer anyone suffering abuse hasn’t changed, and I want to take this opportunity to reassure anyone who finds themselves in an abusive situation to know they are not alone, that help is available.
“We, as your Police Service, are here for you. We will listen to you and we will take action.”
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