Coronavirus: Crowds of bikers flout social distancing rules after flocking to Peak District village

Will Taylor
News Reporter
A spate of visitors turn up in the tiny village of Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. (SWNS)

An eyewitnesses has criticised “disgusting” scenes after crowds of bikers packed out a Peak District beauty spot over the weekend.

Pictures show busy streets in Matlock Bath less than a week after coronavirus lockdown rules in England were relaxed slightly.

It led to the parish council leader worrying that villagers’ health was being put at risk.

Visitors can be seen enjoying ice cream while an eyewitness said social distancing was not being observed.

A two metre gap must be maintained between people not in the same household as per government guidelines and you can only meet one person you don’t live with at a time.

Visitors descended on Matlock Bath at the weekend. (Tom Maddick / SWNS)

Steve Manion, 30, who was passing by Matlock Bath, said: “There were bunches of people brushing up against each other eating ice cream and eating fish and chips.

“No one was adhering to any social distancing whatsoever.

“They certainly weren’t following any government guidance.

“There wasn’t a single mask or any PPE (personal protective equipment) to be seen, some riders had balaclavas but took them off when they got off their bikes.

“It was mad, I saw bikes pull every few minutes.

Police stand near to a crowd of people gathered in the Peak District beauty spot. (Tom Maddick / SWNS)
Police look on at a crowd gathered in the village. (Tom Maddick / SWNS)

“There was a group of people who were stood in front of a ‘thank you NHS’ sign, I don’t know if that was ironic or moronic.”

Anger expressed on Facebook included Richard Cowell, who said visitors’ bikes should be impounded while Stacey Elizabeth said the gathering would result in a longer lockdown.

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The chairman of Matlock Bath Parish Council, Peter Baranek, said: “Residents of Matlock Bath are asking anyone thinking of taking a trip to our lovely village to think twice before coming.

“Matlock Bath is still closed, no facilities are open.

"With the relaxation of the guidelines, it is extremely important to remain vigilant and visits to Matlock Bath and the local area could put our residents’ health at risk.

Bikers travel through Matlock Bath. (Tom Maddick / SWNS)

“Our lovely village does not lend itself to socially distancing safely.

“We urge anyone thinking of coming to Matlock Bath to respect and protect our village and the people who live here by staying away for now.”

Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit tweeted that if the village appeared to be “business as usual” then its officers were too.

A Derbyshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “Social distancing is a guideline that is not enforceable under law.

People mill around in Matlock Bath as the parish council leader asked visitors to stay away. (Tom Maddick / SWNS)

“As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 national emergency our officers have been engaging, explaining and encouraging people to follow the guidance to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Only as a last resort – for persistent or serious breaches of the areas covered by law – are fines used.

“The force’s roads policing unit was active across the county speaking to many drivers and motorcyclists – engaging and explaining the guidance, checking vehicles for defects and enforcing speed limits on roads that have seen serious collisions and fatalities.

“The latest relaxation of the guidelines relies on people using their good judgement to ensure they are keeping themselves and others safe.

“It has been the clear guidance to officers to use enforcement as last resort – we would seek to engage, explain and encourage, which most people understand and are abiding by the guidelines and legislation.”

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