NINETEEN fines were handed out at a house party in Bournemouth on the weekend.

It comes just as the government announced people at house parties of 15 people or more would be fined £800.

However, this gathering was hosted before the rules came in to affect.

Chief constable of Dorset Police, James Vaughan, said: “We welcome the strengthening of this particular regulation, we continue to see people hosting house parties, we had one this weekend where people were given the old fines.

“There are a group of people who continue to flout the regulations, a toughening of the fines, to £800, is a big sum of money that will act as an additional deterrent.

“It was in Holdenhurst Road, 19 people in attendance, they were given fixed penalty notices.

“It was a flat, with decorations on the floor and one person wearing a party hat, all 19 people were reported and given a £200 fine.”

Mr Vaughan also chairs the Strategic Coordinating Group with other local agencies and said Royal Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester hospitals were still treating more than 530 Covid patients.

He described the people hosting house parties as “remarkable”.

“Hospitals are beyond their natural capacity, we are having to transfer patients to Exeter," he said.

“Infection rates seem to be dropping down, but admissions to hospital is expected to remain at its peak for another couple of weeks.

“My message to people holding house parties is, ‘I hope you don’t join the 532 who are fighting for their survival in hospital'.

“It is irresponsible that people think it is okay to put themselves at risk at a time when other people are working so hard to get the virus under control.”

Mr Vaughan added: “If people are having parties, we will deal with that in the same way as we are now.

“We have Covid patrols out, we are receiving 400 reports of breaches a week and we are dealing with the most serious ones first.

“People aren’t getting away with it because people are phoning the police and telling us about it.

"We have dedicated Covid patrols in the county responding and that will continue for the foreseeable future."

The chief constable also called for all “Covid heroes” who have worked through the pandemic to be issued with a “Covid medal”.

Mr Vaughan said he wanted politicians to lobby the government to issue "heroes" like frontline nurses with a medal in recognition of their work throughout the last ten months.

He added: “It will be a great gesture for all the Covid heroes, volunteers, health workers, emergency service, people helping out volunteering at centres.

“It will be great if the government issued a Covid medal to these frontline workers in recognition to their contributions to what is going to be well over a year of difficult responses.

“I am urging politicians to lobby government to do it. Fitting recognition to some tremendous people.”