Police break up COVID-19 rule-breaching boat party in London

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LONDON (Reuters) - Police broke up a party on a boat in a west London suburb on Saturday and more than 70 people could be fined for breaking COVID-19 rules, they said on Sunday.

Britain is in lockdown to try to suppress a new surge in coronavirus cases, party driven by the emergence of new, more contagious variants, and people are banned from socialising in big groups. Authorities are concerned that too many people are breaking the rules, meaning the virus keeps spreading.

The police said they broke up the party on a moored boat late on Saturday and 72 people could receive fixed penalty notices of 800 pounds for breaking coronavirus regulations.

The organiser could be fined 10,000 pounds.

"This was a blatant breach of the coronavirus rules that are in place to save lives and protect the huge pressure on the NHS (National Health Service)," Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Bowen said in a statement.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)