Nottinghamshire Police chief condemns cafe owner after she gets £11,000 fine for persistently flouting Covid restrictions
Police chiefs in Nottinghamshire have condemned a cafe owner for persistently flouting Covid-19 restrictions just as the county was about to enter the toughest of restrictions due to the high numbers of infection rates and rising deaths.
Christine Stala opened her café The Mustard Seed in November last year despite such outlets not being allowed to open due to the pandemic.
She opened the café numerous times and refused to close, despite being fined the maximum amount for doing so.
Eventually her local council was forced to serve her with a closure notice.
Now she has been found guilty at Nottingham Magistrates' Court of six offences of contravening regulations by failing to close and continuing to serve food and drink to customers at the outlet between 12 and 19 November 2020.
She must now pay fines of more than £11,000.
Infections in the community increased rapidly nationally between the end of August and November.
More than 17,000 people a day were being infected and the death rate was soaring as the number continued to climb.
The percentage of people who tested positive in the region was one of highest in country, and at the time of the November offences Notts was about to enter Tier 3 restrictions for the second time as a result of rising rates.
This was before there were any vaccinations and just ahead of a second lockdown ordered by the Government to protect the most vulnerable and stem the flow of hospital admissions and inevitable deaths.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cooper said: “These blatant breaches of the restrictions were committed during a period when there was a rising number of Covid deaths and increasing numbers of people being infected and admitted to hospital.
“Despite multiple visits, advice and warnings, previous fines and a closure order, the café owner still chose to ignore the rules by allowing people to come inside and be served.
“During the pandemic it has been paramount for all businesses to follow the local and national restrictions laid out by government to help stop the spread of Covid however, the proprietor blatantly ignored the rules which were in place to protect everyone and prevent the spread of the virus and continued to keep her premises running.
“Nottinghamshire Police officers have continued to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules in the first instance but, as we have consistently shown, where necessary we have not hesitated to take enforcement action against businesses or individuals who have persisted in blatantly breaching the regulations, despite our advice and guidance."
Stala, aged 70, of Cornwall’s Hill, Lambley, was handed a £1,760 fine for each offence, totalling £10,560, ordered to pay £510 prosecution costs and a £190 victim surcharge after being convicted in her absence on Monday July 5.
The café, in Gedling, had previously been served with a three-month closure order in November, secured by Gedling Borough Council and served by Nottinghamshire Police, following a number of Covid breaches.