Disbelief as Ipswich residents travel 200 miles for Peak District picnic and kebabs during lockdown
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“Seriously, this is not social distancing” - that was the reaction of police officers after they reportedly found people from Ipswich in the Peak District enjoying a picnic, in defiance of the coronavirus lockdown.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the nationwide move on Monday, with people only allowed out of their homes for daily exercise and shopping for essentials such as food, as well as for medical need and if they absolutely cannot work from home.
Unnecessary travel is banned during the three-week restrictions, meaning people cannot drive to areas away from their home.
However Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit Tweeted on Thursday that it had come across “large groups gathering enjoying picnics, kebabs and shisha” at Snake Pass, in the north of the Peak District.
It said some of the visitors had been from Ipswich, which is 200 miles away, along with people from other parts of the country such as Manchester and Sheffield.
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While officers - who Tweeted pictures of the gathering appearing to show people less than the required two-metre distance apart - said the people were “dispersed with no resistance”, they added: “Seriously, this is not social distancing and staying home.”
Those who ignore tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence, the Home Office has warned.
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Officers in England were given the power to enforce rules on staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel as of 1pm on Thursday.
They can order members of the public to go home and leave an area.
They also have the power to disperse a group using “reasonable force, if necessary”.
Home secretary Priti Patel said the powers were designed to “protect the public and keep people safe”.
According to the guidance, the cost of initial fixed penalty notices will be cut to £30 if paid within 14 days and those who do not pay could be taken to court and risk facing costs for unlimited fines.
Refusing to provide a name and address to avoid being given a fine is an arrestable offence.