Nearly £30,000 in fines have been handed out to people who broke Covid-19 rules by gathering at an illegal pop-up shisha bar.

West Midlands Police (WMP) said officers who were clamping down on lockdown breaches found 36 people crammed above a food shop on Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, on Saturday night.

The floor had been turned into an open plan shisha lounge, with beer and soft drinks on offer, card games being played and football on the TV.

It was among the latest “blatant” and “disheartening” breaches of Covid-19 social distancing laws in the region, WMP Assistant Chief Constable Mark Payne said.

Everyone at the shisha bar got an £800 fine under recently introduced rules bringing in higher penalties for gatherings of more than 15 people.

Officers dealt with 74 reported breaches of Covid-19 rules on Saturday and another 61 on Friday.

They handed out 23 fines of £200 and 36 of £800 on Saturday while another 36 £200 fines were issued on Friday.

WMP said nine people who were playing pool in a salon on Lodge Road, Winson Green, on Friday, received £200 fines.

Mr Payne said: “Sadly some people are still not getting the message that we are in a pandemic which has killed thousands of people, and continues to kill hundreds daily.

“Our officers are working long hours in really difficult circumstances to keep people safe, and blatant breaches such as these are really disheartening to see.

“Officers are having to go home to their families after breaking up large gatherings such as this, not knowing if they have contracted coronavirus while trying to protect others.

“We know that most people are sticking to the rules and we’re genuinely grateful for that.”