British police busted a mass wedding held Thursday at a London high school for ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls in violation of virus lockdown rules. The UK’s chief rabbi slammed the gathering as a “shameful desecration.”
The Metropolitan Police said 400 people attended the wedding at the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in the UK capital’s Stamford Hill neighborhood, some of whom fled when officers arrived.
The wedding-goers had covered the windows of the building to prevent people from seeing inside, police added.
Five people were fined £200 ($273) and police said they were weighing a £10,000 ($13,663) fine for the wedding organizer.
According to the BBC, the school serves as a coronavirus testing center on Sundays.
A police commander slammed the wedding as “a completely unacceptable breach of the law” and the mayor of the London borough where Stamford Hill is located denounced the event.
“We will be meeting with the Rabbinate and our community partners over the coming days to see how we can prevent further incidents of this nature,” Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville was quoted saying in a police statement.
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis also issued a condemnation.
“This is a most shameful desecration of all that we hold dear. At a time when we are all making such great sacrifices, it amounts to a brazen abrogation of the responsibility to protect life & such illegal behavior is abhorred by the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community,” he wrote on Twitter.
The wedding came as England is weeks into its third national lockdown, with schools and non-essential shops closed for the foreseeable future due to surging infections.
On Thursday, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced English police will be able to issue bigger fines to those breaking coronavirus lockdown measures by partying.
The new fines regime, which comes into force next week, targets those attending house parties and other illegal gatherings, with penalties doubling for each offense.
AFP contributed to this report.