TWELVE people have been taken ill with Covid-19 after attending a post-Christmas fundraising dinner at York Acorn Rugby Club in Acomb.

Among those who became ill with the virus were the club's rugby chair, Craig Lucas, 43 - and his entire family.

A fellow club member became so ill he had to go to hospital, but is now recovering.

Mr Lucas said 78 people attended the event, which was held on December 30 - the day before York moved from Tier 2 into Tier 3.

The club spoke with the police and council in advance, he said - and the event was organised in accordance with Tier 2 guidance. Tickets were all pre-sold, food was served by waitresses at socially distanced tables, there was no dancing - and the club was operating track and trace.

"It was well-behaved," he said. "There were no complaints on the night. I left at 9.45 and it was just the bar staff cleaning up."

The very next day, however - at about 9pm on New Year's Eve - he began to feel ill.

"It was like really bad flu," he said. He went for a Covid test at Poppleton Road the very next day - and within 24 hours the result had come back positive.

The club, in Thanet Road in Foxwood, immediately put its track and trace system in place, he said - and even set up a a local Covid testing site to make it easier for anyone who had been to the event to get tested.

"We tried our best to do everything," Mr Lucas said.

More positive cases began to be recorded among people who had been at the event. Mr Lucas said the rumour mill had exaggerated just how many cases there had been.

"But I do believe that at the moment there are 12 cases that we have had from the event," he said.

"Everybody has isolated, everybody has been off work."

The Westfield, Chapelfields and Foxwood area of York now has the highest rate of Covid infections in York. In the seven days to January 8 there were 144 cases in the area - giving an infection rate of 1,560.3 people per 100,000. That is more than double the infection rate for England as a whole.

Mr Lucas said the December 30 event had been held as a community event to cheer people up and to raise much-needed funds to keep the club and its rugby teams going.

Asked whether the club now regretted holding the event, he said: "Would the club knowing what we know now hold the event? No, not whatsoever. I would not want to see anyone go though what I and my family have gone through over the last 14 days. I feel for anyone who picked up the virus at Acorn and hope they recover and get well and back to a 100 per cent as soon as possible."

He said that what had happened had been 'a sickener' for the club, which has a new committee and has invested recently in a new pitch and in doing up the clubhouse.

But the club would move on, he insisted. It is expected to host a warm-up game for the Rugby League World Cup in October.

"The full community will be welcome free of charge," Mr Lucas said. "I want people to see what a fantastic club we are."

Matt Boxall, Head of Public Protection at City of York Council, said his authority did not 'approve' events.

"But we provided advice on complying with tier 2 restrictions – as were in place at the time. This was principally around the need to serve a meal with alcohol," he said.

“We also sent all hospitality businesses in the city a letter reminding them of the laws in place including that people from households shouldn’t be mixing and that appropriate track and tracing requirements should be in place in the event of a problem’.

“One of the real challenges for businesses is that the laws are having to change so quickly. In this case, an announcement was made on the 30th December 30 that York would be moving to tier 3 the following day, and less than a week later we were put into the current national lockdown restrictions.

“Our officers are here to provide advice to businesses to help them comply, but it very much remains their responsibility to ensure they are lawful and that the planned safety measures are put into place."