A Richmondshire venue owner says she has done nothing wrong after police broke up an event at the weekend saying it was breaking the Covid-19 rules on wedding parties.
Officers arrived at the Yorkshire Wedding Barn, near Gilling West, on Saturday afternoon to find at least 60 people attending a dinner.
Organisers were told to end the event as it was a breach of the rules brought in to tackle the coronavirus, but venue owner Mandy Baker-Bird said she believes she did nothing wrong.
Mrs Baker-Bird said it was a “celebratory dinner” held after a wedding ceremony had taken place several weeks ago.
The guests, who were Asian, were sat in family groups of no more than six, and there was no alcohol or a dance floor, she added.
She said the event was due to end at 6pm, but was ended by police at around 5pm.
Mrs Baker-Bird said they checked with the police around a fortnight earlier that they were okay to hold the event at the barn, which has operated as a pop-up restaurant during the pandemic.
“We did all the right things, with nobody moving about and everyone staying in their bubble.
“I don’t see what the difference is with this event and 100 people packed into a restaurant.
“The police turned up and said it was a wedding but it wasn’t — I don’t feel I did anything wrong.”
The venue owner is highly critical of the support she has received from the Government since the pandemic began, despite receiving a grant and furloughing staff.
“They gave us a small grant at the start but the wedding industry has had nothing since then — we’re a sacrificial lamb.
“It’s not just us – it’s the florists, the photographers, the videographers. They are basically saying that if your business isn’t viable you should retrain — what are people going to do in Richmond?”
Mrs Baker-Bird said she had been to see Richmond MP Rishi Sunak but said he “didn’t want to help”.
“There’s a lot of wedding venues in Richmondshire and you’d think he’d want to help, but he’s not interested.
“I voted for him and Boris but I’m kicking myself that I did.
“The problem is we don’t have someone banging the drum for us like Andy Burnham in Manchester.”
The rules currently allow a maximum of 15 people to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “On Saturday, October 10, police received a number of reports about a wedding at a venue in Gilling West, Richmondshire, where more than 60 guests were in attendance.
“The maximum allowable under the coronavirus regulations is 15.
“Officers dispersed the wedding guests peacefully, many of whom were from areas currently under stricter, local regulations.
“The owner of the venue was cautioned and will be reported for breaching the coronavirus regulations in relation to weddings.”