Published: 16:49, 05 January 2021
| Updated: 00:36, 06 January 2021
An after-hours party held at a branch of Aldi "should not have taken place", bosses have admitted.
Photos of the get-together at the store in King's Road, Herne Bay, were shared online by a disgruntled resident who spotted the gathering taking place on Sunday.
The images appear to show staff eating and drinking around tables inside the supermarket, with a handful of balloons hung up nearby.
Writing to the chain on Twitter, the resident said: "Pandemic party at your Herne Bay store. Any comments?"
Under Tier 4 rules, indoor get-togethers were prohibited, with people only allowed to meet one person at a time outside in a public space.
However, social media users defended the shop workers, with one arguing "they probably spend more time with their staff members than their actual families".
But despite this, an Aldi spokesperson said the party should not have been allowed to go ahead.
They said: “The socially distanced gathering at our Herne Bay store after it was closed should not have taken place.
"All of our stores have comprehensive social distancing measures in place, including sanitisation stations, Perspex screens at the checkouts and an automated traffic light system to manage the number of people shopping in store, to keep our stores as safe as possible for both our customers and our colleagues."
Today, Kent Police issued a plea for everyone to adhere to the strict lockdown rules and stay at home following the announcement from Boris Johnson last night of another national lockdown.
Officers say the approach to policing lockdown has not changed since March - and they will continue to 'engage, explain, encourage and enforce' only as a last resort.
On New Year’s Eve, officers attended a property in Oaten Hill, Canterbury, where a group of teenagers were holding a party and a man was issued with a fixed penalty notice of £200.
The same evening more fines were handed out in Medway as people held parties and met friends. Four separate incidents resulted in 15 fines being issued to people in Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester.
On New Year’s Day, at 9am, two men from outside the county were fined £200 each in Wickhambreaux, Canterbury. One of the men had travelled 80 miles from his home to the property, which had been booked for a birthday party.
Later that day officers stopped a vehicle near to Medway Services and discovered a woman had travelled down from Scotland to attend a house party.
Officers fined her £200 and told her to return home.
Meanwhile, a stop check in New Road, Chatham, resulted in a £1,000 fine for a man who failed to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 and was meeting with other people.
"The restrictions are designed to reduce the infection rate – but they will only work if people comply..."
Another £1,000 fine was issued to a crash victim in Ramsgate on Sunday. The woman was a passenger of a car involved in a collision and enquiries revealed that she should have been self-isolating.
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: "The vast majority of Kent residents recognise the importance of abiding by the regulations to control the spread of Covid-19 and stayed at home with members of their household to see in the New Year.
"In other instances, we were able to disperse people and remind them of their personal responsibility to do the right thing and follow the law.
"However, on the occasions where people showed a blatant disregard for the regulations, putting others in danger by hosting gatherings or meeting others whilst infected with the virus, officers were left with no other option but to issue fines.
"As we enter the third national lockdown we will continue to police in the way we have since March – engaging with people, reminding them of their responsibilities and taking further action when necessary.
"The restrictions are designed to reduce the infection rate – but they will only work if people comply. I would urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the latest guidance to ensure we all collectively help reduce infections.
"Preventing the spread of the virus is a shared effort, and police will play their part alongside the government, businesses, hospitality owners, local authorities and the public."