Monday, 8 Mar 2021

Bath fury: Britons branded ‘irresponsible humans’ after gathering outdoors during lockdown

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A picture taken on Sunday afternoon shows a number people congregating in social groups near Bath Abbey. The image was captured from the property of a disgruntled resident shortly before 4pm and shows around 20 people sat on benches outside the historical church, while a musician performs in the middle of the square. Those gathered in Abbey Courtyard are sat socially-distanced in groups of no more than two and three.

However, socialising outside is not permitted under the current coronavirus lockdown rules in place around the country.

Local resident Aida Lirola claimed people were acting as if there was not a pandemic going on and were sat eating, drinking and listening to live music.

Ms Lirola said the scenes reminded her of what things were like before the virus struck and branded the behaviour as “irresponsible”.

Speaking to SomersetLive, she said: “I cannot believe it. This photo is taken from my house Sunday, February 21 in full lockdown.

“People [out] as if there were no Covid, with musician included.

“This happened around 3.30pm, people were sitting down drinking coffee, eating and talking, and enjoying the music of a person who was there playing music.

“There were more people passing through that area, it honestly reminded me of any Sunday before the pandemic.

“I do not understand how irresponsible human beings can be, it is known that they are only allowed to go out for the essentials and do sports for one hour, not sitting down for coffee.”

Under the current restrictions, people are only allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of specific reasons, including for work, shopping for basic necessities and exercise.

The guidance adds: “It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.

“You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes such as for a picnic or a social meeting.”

Avon and Somerset Police have previously been forced to disperse groups of around 30 people from Abbey Courtyard.

People are also not allowed to travel outside of their local areas to conduct any of the permitted activities during lockdown.

Jon Raisey, neighbourhood sergeant for Bath city centre, previously said the beauty spot had attracted visitors from more than 100 miles away in Birmingham.

Sergeant Raisey said the force has since been working with the local council to put up signs reminding people of the rules around places such as Abbey Courtyard.

He said: “What we’re seeing in Bath is that people are meeting up to have a coffee on a bench. As coffee shops are open people think it’s okay to sit and drink it.

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“It’s a confusing picture but that is not one of the reasons you should be out and about. I think some people meet up for a walk and then sit and have a coffee, I can see how it happens as people want to catch up with friends.

“We’ve worked hard with Bath and North East Somerset Council to put up signs explaining this on some of the benches in the city centre where this was happening.

“Places like the Abbey Courtyard we’ve had to disperse groups of 20 to 30 people and Victoria Park.”

(Additional reporting by Emma Elgee)

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