A woman was fined £10,000 after police shut down a New Year party taking place in an area with the highest Covid infection rate in England.
Essex Police were granted a dispersal order after responding to reports of a “large, unauthorised, gathering” in Epping Forest shortly after midnight.
A Snapchat video published on Twitter, claiming to be shot overnight in Sewardstonebury, showed multiple young adults dancing and partying inside a room.
There were balloons, sparklers, a DJ, and alcohol was being served in large ice buckets by waiters.
There was even a fire dancer outside entertaining guests.
Police confirmed around 100 people attended the house party in Bury Road, and the female organiser was fined £10,000.
Equipment inside the home was seized and more than 25 fixed penalty notices were issued.
Essex Police said: “The dispersal order in Sewardstonebury began at 12:40am today, Friday 1 January, and will end at 12pm this afternoon.
“(The dispersal order) allows our officers to move anyone on from the area to prevent anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder.
“The dispersal order covers Bury Road between the junction of Daws Hill and Rangers Road. It also includes Gillwell Lane, Farm End, Woodman Lane and Hornbeam Lane.”
The gathering in Sewardstonebury, on the north London/Epping Forest border near Waltham Abbey, will dismay health officials who are currently dealing with a coronavirus crisis in Epping Forest as well as across other parts of Essex.
The Covid infection rate in the district of Epping Forest in the seven days to December 27 is 1328.9 cases per 100,000 population, which is the highest weekly rate in the whole of England.
This is equivalent to 1,750 cases, and does not include nearly 400 cases recorded since the 27th.
Neighbouring London boroughs Enfield and Waltham Forest also have some of the highest rates in the country.
In total Essex Police handed out fines of more than £18,000 overnight.
Officers came under attack from partygoers when they attended a 500-year-old church in East Horndon with hundreds of people inside.
Members of the conservation group that supports All Saints Church said they are “devastated” by the damage caused and estimate repairs could cost more than £1,000.
Around 100 people were also dispersed from an abandoned warehouse in Brentwood following an unlicensed event.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “I’d like to firstly thank everyone across Essex who stayed at home and did the right thing last night.
“You’re protecting our NHS and you’ve allowed us to attend a large number of callouts across the county, including arresting three people on suspicion of murder in Rayleigh following the tragic death of a man in Worcester Road.
“Unfortunately, there were others who decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people.
“We’ve seized their equipment, arrested five people, and issued a large number of fines to those who think this behaviour is acceptable.
“We need you to keep yourselves, other people, and the NHS, safe. Thank you again to everyone who spent their New Year’s Eve in a responsible, legal, way. Stay safe, Essex.”