The Mayor of High Wycombe has been photographed failing to adhere to social distancing guidelines at an event in the West Midlands which made headlines that forced five local councillors to apologise.

Councillor Mazamal “Maz” Hussain, who was elected to the mayor’s office in May last year, was seen flouting government social distancing rules with five Sandwell councillors, in Birmingham, on July 12.

Four of the councillors Mr Hussain is pictured with represent wards in which there has been a “huge spike” in coronavirus cases, while Sandwell is “among the UK’s top 10 hotspots for Covid-19”, according to local newspaper the Express & Star.

Mr Hussain said he was in Birmingham to meet with the High Commission to assist people in the Pakistani community to fly back home, but for whom the cost to do so was “double” and therefore made more difficult.

Mr Hussain appears to be standing among a group of men after a dinner organised by the Overseas Pakistanis Welfare Council (OPWC), at the Karahi King Village restaurant, in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

The mayor is positioned fifth from the right wearing a light grey suit and among 16 other men who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder and not wearing face masks.

Read more: Coronavirus: Mayor of Wycombe Maz Hussain talks about Covid-19

Among their number are five Sandwell councillors (councillors’ Zahir Hussain, Mushtaq Hussain, Zahoor Ahmed, Mohammed Rouf and Ahmad Bostan) who have since issued a joint apology for violating social distancing measures after the photograph began circulating on social media.

The five councillors were reprimanded by the leader of Sandwell Council and the Sandwell Labour Group whips’ office.

They told local newspaper the Express & Star the purpose of their meeting was to “discuss urgent community issues”.

They said they were told by event organisers “social distancing would be maintained”.

Adding: “Whilst for the most part social distancing was observed, we regret this wasn’t the case throughout.”

The group have since, “offered our profuse apologies which we extend to the people of Sandwell.”

Read more: High Wycombe mayor Maz Hussain to stay in role until May 2021 because of coronavirus

Social distancing guidelines at the time stated people should ideally remain 2 metres (6 ft) apart, but 1 metre (3 ft) if that is “not possible”, with extra precautions “such as face coverings”.

It was also advised people avoid sitting face-to-face.

Social distancing guidelines at the time also state up to 30 people from two households can convene, or up to six people from multiple households.

Restaurants in England were also encouraged to manage crowd density and minimise numbers in enclosed spaces.

Read more: Coronavirus pandemic: High Wycombe residents create Facebook group to help most vulnerable

“I was there (in Birmingham) on 12 July,” said Mr Hussain to the Free Press. “But someone stood behind me, I didn’t realise they were there.

“The visit was something for the Pakistani community; about people flying back to Pakistan who cannot fly so I was meeting the High Commission.

“People are being charged double the fees to fly.”

A spokesperson for Buckinghamshire Council said: “Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, we all need to take extreme care when out and about. We provide weekly updates to all councillors on the latest Covid guidance and what we are doing to maintain our services while keeping people as safe as possible.”