Man Breaks Into Zoo Restaurant and Helps Himself to Beers and Wine During Coronavirus Lockdown

A man broke into a restaurant inside a zoo and stayed there to drink alcohol during the coronavirus lockdown in the U.K., police said.

West Midlands Police said they were alerted after an alarm was activated at Dudley Zoo in England on Tuesday. There, officers found a man had broken into an on-site restaurant and was "helping himself to beers and wine."

The 44-year-old suspect, who was not named, was charged with burglary. He was also charged with contravening a restriction of movement during an emergency period — under a new law introduced by the U.K. government last week to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The man was released from custody on bail and is due to appear at Dudley Magistrates' Court on April 30, police said.

Police officers patrol a deserted Corporation Street in Birmingham city centre during the nationwide lockdown on March 29, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Dudley Zoo closed to the public on March 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic. A zoo spokesperson has been contacted for comment.

West Midlands Police said the "vast majority" of people in their region are complying with the government's call to stay at home in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But they said they felt it necessary to take "firm action" against the handful who are flouting the government's lockdown measures.

While the restrictions are in place, people in the U.K. are only permitted to leave their homes for a few reasons, including shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise per day, for medical or health reasons or to travel to and from work if they cannot work from home.

Superintendent Jane Bailey, of West Midlands Police's Criminal Justice Department, said, "We're talking about a tiny, tiny minority of people who are allegedly flouting the government's public safety order by gathering in groups.

"Our focus is to speak with people when we're out and about on patrols, help where we can and to stress the importance of social distancing to stifle the virus' spread.

"Officers will educate anyone who is unclear what's being asked of them and encourage compliance with the government's instruction."

She added: "Taking firmer action or enforcement will only be a last resort for us as I'm sure most people appreciate the seriousness of the situation we're in and want to do the right thing."

The U.K. has more than 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 2,352 deaths, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. More than 4,000 of the cases are in the Midlands region.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.