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Sevenoaks restaurant slapped with £1,000 fine for breaching lockdown rules

A Sevenoaks restaurant has been given a £1,000 fixed penalty notice after continuing to serve customers after the 10pm curfew just before lockdown.

Police officers from the the town's Community Safety Unit visited the Raj Bari in Tubs Hill, London Road, just before 10.30pm on WednesdayNov 4 and found that customers were still being served inside the premises.

The Raj Bari owner Yahiee Ahad
The Raj Bari owner Yahiee Ahad

After officers spoke to the staff and customers, the restaurant closed.

The manager attended Sevenoaks Police Station on FridayNov 6 where he was issued with a fixed penalty notice for £1,000, which will be reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days.

The District Commander for Sevenoaks, Chief Inspector Jon Kirby, said: "While staff in the majority of restaurants and bars in Sevenoaks understand the importance of complying with the guidelines and have closed their premises before or at 10pm, in this case, officers witnessed a venue that had continued trading and a fine was issued.

"Businesses that fail to comply with current guidelines can face fines of up to £10,000 or prosecution.

"We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies and will engage, explain and encourage people to comply with coronavirus legislation."

The Raj Bari in Sevenoaks
The Raj Bari in Sevenoaks

Restaurant owner Yahiee Ahad said: "We had closed the restaurant at 10pm. But it had been a very busy night - the whole of the town had been busy with people going out for the last time before lockdown.

"We had perhaps 15 to 20 people still in restaurant. It was very difficult to get them to leave.

"Some people are very nice and left straight away when asked, others who had perhaps had a few drinks were reluctant to go.

"It was very difficult."

Back in April this year, Mr Ahad donated £5,000 to the NHS Charities Together Charity to help support key workers in the health service.

Mr Ahad said then that he had made the donation after seeing first-hand how hard NHS staff and carers were working.

He said: "We see the nurses when they come to collect a take-away order after a shift, and you can just see how tired they are, how hard they're working."

Although the seating area of the Raj Bari has now closed as per lockdown regulations. The restaurant is still proving takeaway meals ordered and paid for over the phone, with staff taking the order out to customers waiting in the car park.

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