Coronavirus: 'Going to buy drugs' among lockdown breach excuses

By Matt Lloyd
BBC News

  • Published
SignImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Police have urged the public to follow the lockdown rules and stay home

Trying out a new catapult, taking a quad bike for a "walk" and buying drugs are just some of the random excuses people have used for breaking coronavirus lockdown guidelines.

Forces in Wales have released examples of just some of the reasons people have given for supposed "essential" travel.

Police said most people were following advice to stay home.

However they said a "a small minority had selfishly put others at risk" and had been fined.

It is almost five weeks since strict rules were announced to limit the spread of coronavirus which will continue into May.

Police say the message is now so clear that individuals who are outside for reasons other than those permitted in the guidelines would face "greater enforcement activity", including a fixed penalty notice of £60.

Among the excuses given to Gwent Police officers were:

  • "My son is a rubbish cook so I take him food every day"
  • "I've just been to feed the fish"
  • "I've been to buy nail clippers for the dog"
  • "I've bought a new catapult and wanted to try it out"
  • "I don't watch the news - what's going on?"
  • "I'm taking my mate into Newport to buy drugs"
  • "I am taking my quad bike for a walk and I promise I am not going ride it around a field"
  • "I thought I heard someone may be in trouble, so I came to have a look but I don't know their name or remember the person who told me it".

Gwent Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said: "We understand this is a difficult time for all people.

"The vast majority of our communities are adhering to the guidance and we are grateful for the real difference they are making.

"A small minority are continuing to go against these guidelines."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Rhyl seafront promenade has largely been deserted during lockdown

Wales' three national parks are all closed however North Wales police said it was still turning away day-trippers, walkers and off-road bikers from Snowdonia.

Among the motorists stopped across north Wales, they had:

  • Driven from Birkenhead to walk up Snowdon because they were "bored"
  • Made a 52-mile round-trip to buy CBD oil
  • Driven from Norfolk to "exchange a motorbike"
  • Driven from Shropshire to "pick a table up from mum"
  • Driven from Birkenhead to "pick up a bed"
Image source, North Wales Police
Image caption,
Three men from the Wirral were fined after ignoring warnings not to camp near Wrexham

North Wales Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Harrison said: "The main enforcement we are using is the power to direct people home to their home address and where required we will report people so that fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can be issued.

"As a whole our communities recognise the importance of sticking to government direction so we can all help save lives."

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Two men and two women from Cardiff were fined after they called to be rescued after getting lost on a Rhondda mountain.

South Wales Police said it had also been called to:

  • Help rescue four people stranded at Sully Island
  • Seven people at a house party in Cardiff
  • Youths playing basketball outside a leisure centre in Swansea
  • A home gym being used by neighbours in Merthyr Tydfil

Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth Stephen Doughty blasted "totally irresponsible" people for getting stranded on Sully Island in the Vale of Glamorgan during the lockdown.

He was responding to Penarth Coastguard after it tweeted it had been called out to assist five times in as many weeks.

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West and mid Wales usually see a large number of visitors to tourist attractions such as the Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons national parks and have a large number of holiday homes and second properties.

Dyfed-Powys Police has issued 368 FPNs for breaching Covid-19 regulations between 27 March and 14 April.

However it had also seen a 35% reduction in crime compared with the same period the previous year.

Among the reasons given to officers were:

  • Driving to Brecon to go fishing
  • Driving to Tenby to fish for crabs
  • Driving an 84-mile round-trip to "buy a wing mirror for a friend's car"
  • "To take some photos"
Image source, Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption,
"Going fishing for crabs in Tenby is not essential travel," said Dyfed-Powys Police

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: "Annually we welcome more than 10 million people to our area, and while together with our partners we have said for now, our counties are closed, some people haven't listened to this and have continued to put communities and the NHS at risk."

The force is also among those to have raised concerns that speeding motorists have been travelling at more than double the limit during lockdown.

Officers said some drivers were taking advantage of the quiet roads and using them as "racing tracks".

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