Coronavirus: Crowds flock to Matlock Bath 'like a bank holiday'

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image copyrightDerbyshire Police
image captionMatlock Bath is a tourist hotspot particularly popular with motorcyclists

Visitors who flocked to a Peak District village like it "was a bank holiday" have provoked anger.

Tightly-packed crowds were spotted in Matlock Bath, despite government calls for social-distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Peak District National Park Authority said there were "extremely high" visitor numbers across the whole area and asked people to avoid it.

One resident of 23 years said villagers were "angry".

Sally Dixey, 55, told the BBC: "It was very annoying to see the number who descended on us - it was like a Bank Holiday Monday. It meant people in the village couldn't go out.

"We love our visitors and we'll gladly welcome them back at the end with open arms, but for now, my message for them is to stay away."

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Saul Clay, a 38-year-old who passed through Hathersage to visit private land, said that Peak District town was also "busier than normal".

"There were kids with grandparents and mums with prams," he said. "We saw a group of cyclists all sat outside a cafe together.

"It would not have been possible to stay socially distant on the pavement. It's frustrating to see when we're going out of our way to avoid people."

The National Trust and Derbyshire County Council closed their parks as the numbers made it "impossible" to enforce social distancing.

Barry Lewis, leader of the council, said the authority was asking people not to visit "for the first time in [its] history".

"We would've loved to have kept country parks and our national park open to sensible visitors to use at this difficult time," he said.

"However we are in a position where we cannot risks our residents and communities. People absolutely must do their bit to ensure that they do all they can to keep themselves and others safe."

Car boot sale criticism

There was also anger after a car boot sale in Tansley, Derbyshire went ahead on Sunday.

Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales, Sarah Dines, called it "irresponsible" and said handing visitors and traders a pair of surgical gloves was "not enough".

"People are very upset about anything encouraging people to get in groups," she added.

She said the government was "responsibly encouraging people to do the right thing without ordering it" but the event did not comply with social distancing advice.

Organisers said they had taken extra precautions providing gloves and hand sanitiser and advising visitors to keep a safe distance from one another.

A statement posted online said in light of the council closing public parks and "negative feedback" they had cancelled future events.

Many parks and open spaces across the UK were busy this weekend - prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to call those who ignored government advice "very selfish".

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