Lighting Fixtures

Half Mag / Half Zine

Ewan Somerville
Police were forced to break up a crowd of 250 people gathered to watch an outdoor tribute concert to US rapper Dr Dre, slamming the “blatant disregard” for coronavirus rules.

The organisers of Friday’s event at the 19th century Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Liverpool’s Stanley Park were fined £10,000 for flouting the ban on mass gatherings.

It was billed as “a combination of a traditional orchestra merging with a modern live hip-hop music event” to perform 2001, the second album of Andre Romelle Young, known as Dr Dre, who found fame with controversial rap group N.W.A.

Organisers No Strings Attached said the ticketed event would be operating under “strict Covid government guidelines”.

“This FRIDAY we take over the Isla Gladstone Conservatory,” the event company posted on social media ahead of the event, adding fans should “expect a full standing crowd”.

But Merseyside Police swiftly swooped on the event to shut it down after receiving a tip off at about 8.40pm.

Officers found a crowd of 250 people in “close proximity” who were dispersed and licensing enquiries are underway.

Liverpool recorded a sharp jump in its rolling seven-day average of cases on Friday, jumping from 124.5 per 100,000 people to 227.3 – making it the fourth worst hotspot in England.

Superintendent Chris Gibson said: “The vast majority of people who live and work in Merseyside will absolutely despair that such an event could be contemplated in our current circumstances.

“There were people in close proximity which lays bare the organisers’ blatant disregard for the serious health implications that this may now have for the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“We have additional policing resources across Merseyside and, as they have been since the start of the pandemic, our officers will be out engaging with the public, encouraging people to adhere to the new restrictions, explaining why it is so important and where necessary we will take enforcement action.

A No Strings Attached spokesperson said: “The event did not get shut down, it ran until 9:30pm as planned.”

Another £10,000 fine was handed out by Greater Manchester Police to the organiser of a wedding party at a licensed premises in Longsight, Manchester, on Thursday night.

On arrival, police found about 70 people present who initially refused to leave the unnamed premises which have been closed by the authorities for at least seven days subject to review.

Under the “rule of six”, gatherings of more than six people with certain exemptions are banned to tackle the UK’s surging rates of coronavirus.

The R rate – the rate of reproduction – rose again on Friday to between 1.2 and 1.5, meaning every 10 infected people pass the virus on to between 12 and 15 others.

Professor Graham Medley, who sits on the Government’s Sage scientific advisory committee, warned on Saturday there would be 100 coronavirus deaths a day in a few weeks’ time because of the recent surge in cases.