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Two organisers of a mass snowball fight that saw hundreds of people gather in a park to take part have been fined £10,000 each for breaching lockdown regulations:
Police said crowds mixed in the green space in Leeds for more than two hours on 14 January in what was dubbed 'the battle of Hyde Park' online.
Under current coronavirus legislation, a gathering of more than 30 people is illegal and carries a maximum £10,000 fine.
Two men, aged 20 and 23, were quizzed yesterday (27 January) and slapped with the heavy fines after being investigated by cops probing the gathering.
The 23-year-old had previously been fined for breaching restrictions at an address near the park in Leeds, West Yorkshire, in November, cops said.
Chief Superintendent Damien Miller said: "We take absolutely no pleasure in handing out such heavy fines to these two young men but their actions encouraged hundreds of people to be in close proximity to each other, creating a significant and completely unnecessary risk of increasing the spread of the virus.
"It was a blatant breach of the legislation that is in place to help keep people safe at what remains a critical time for us all."
Shocking footage of the snowball fight was shared online and met with widespread criticism from social media users.
Onlookers said they were horrified by the breach just a mile from where sick Covid patients are treated at Leeds General Infirmary.
Chief Superintendent Miller added: "The event attracted understandable media attention and widespread public condemnation of all those who irresponsibly took part.
"That said, it remains clear that the vast majority of people recognise the need for collective responsibility and are continuing to stick with the regulations that are there to protect our families and our communities.
"We will continue our approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance but we won't hesitate to enforce the law where people blatantly disregard the rules and put others at risk."
Liam Ford, who lives nearby, shot a brief video after coming across the commotion while on a walk with his girlfriend.
The furloughed retail worker said at the time: "With what's going on, I can't condone mass gatherings like that. I've really come to appreciate going for a walk and having that time, I think these people have abused that.
"We were going for a walk in the park, it's literally around the corner from our house, and we heard all this commotion. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
Liam shared the video on social media and one Twitter user fumed: "Pandemic? What pandemic?! It's no wonder people are dying when this sort of thing occurs."
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