Following their closure on 21st October, it has emerged that LAB11 have been given a £10,000 fine from West Midlands Police for a breach of rules regarding COVID-19
The popular Digbeth dance and music venue Lab11 holds the view that it has been ‘operating amongst the highest standards in the UK’ with regards to the government guidelines surrounding the coronavirus since its reopening on 25th July. Yet, West Midlands Police reported on Friday that they have issued the venue with a £10,000 fine following ‘concerns that different households were mixing.’
Previously, LAB11 revealed that they were closing the venue ‘voluntarily’ and ‘temporarily’ due to ‘doubt over the legalities and practicalities of being open.’ The ‘discussions with authorities’ prior to this appear to concern whether the venue in question qualified as an outdoor or indoor space. Under the current government guidelines, Birmingham falls under the high alert level, meaning that ‘you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting.’ West Midlands Police state that on visiting LAB11 on 17th October, multiple households were mixing at tables and visitors were moving around and dancing without masks on inside a large marquee.
Police officers recorded at the scene a video later posted by West Midlands Police on their social media to support their claim that the marquee has walls and a roof, meaning that they class it as a building and therefore an indoor event. In response to the police article and fine, LAB11 posted on Facebook that they ‘claimed the event was outdoors […] and this is the position that we still maintain.’
In the same post, LAB11 defended their actions further, stating that they had received regular police visits in recent weeks, each resulting in officers leaving, content that they ‘were operating safely and properly.’ Furthermore, they state that they ‘have not had 1 single official warning or complaint regarding this from Police, Licensing or the council prior to this point.’ LAB11 have surmised that the action taken by West Midlands Police is a purely ‘political manoeuvre’ to use the company ‘as a trophy for their social media account in time for the weekend news.’
Ultimately, despite police action, LAB11 have maintained that ‘the venue was as safe and compliant as possible’ and have publicly stated online that they will not be paying the fee.
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