A police community support officer from Humberside has been heavily criticised after complaining about a large group of vehicles in a car park in East Yorkshire.
PCSO Darren Bainton posted a picture of the 14 vehicles parked closely together in a car park along the A165 near Skirlaugh on Sunday, saying:
“One form of exercise a day is allowed but having 14 vehicles parked up in a small car park isn’t. Think about contact, please respect social distancing to save lives and protect the NHS.”
The tweet came under immediate criticism from members of the public, with users complaining that it is just another example of the UK police force taking lockdown measures to the extreme.
#Holderness one form of exercise a day is allowed but having 14vehicles parked up in a small car park isn’t. Think about contact, please respect social distancing to save lives & protect the NHS #A165 #Skirlaugh pic.twitter.com/wMw6Zj9kWY— PCSO Darren Bainton (@PCSODarrenB) April 26, 2020
One tweeted: “A couple of things here. 1, cars do not need to social distance and I doubt the drivers will all return at the same time. 2, every supermarket car park is worse than that, yet no comment about them, I think your being way over zealous with the rules as they stand.”
Another said: “Not quite sure what the problem is? Are all these people in a huddle or are they just venturing out into a change of scenery? But feel free to go rub shoulders outside HR1 on a Thursday night because that seems acceptable.”
A third simply said: “Do cars spread COVID now then?”
Humberside Police continued to patrol the beauty spots of East Yorkshire over the weekend as people took advantage of the continued good weather across the UK to make sure lockdown rules were being adhered to.
However, several people pointed out that under new guidelines issued by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), people in the UK are allowed to drive to the countryside for a walk or to exercise the dog under certain circumstances.
One user said: “They relaxed the guidelines saying you can drive into the countryside to exercise if the time spent exercising is longer than the drive to get there.”
Another pointed out that social distancing could still be carried out in this situation, tweeting: “. . . guidance is also issued saying you can drive to go for a walk as long as the exercise is longer than the drive. Unless it is literally impossible to maintain the 2 metre gap where they have gone it’s permitted. Let a car go before returning to yours if within 2m.”
Although not everyone was against the actions of Humberside Police, with one man reprimanding those who are not taking the lockdown seriously enough, he said: “Not as though they haven’t been warned! Should only be driving to work etc. Need fines or the lockdown gets longer and more die.”
The document issued by the NPCC states that it is “lawful to drive for exercise.” However, driving for a prolonged period for only brief exercise would “not likely” be a reasonable excuse.
It states: “Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise. However, a very short period of ‘exercise’ to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that a person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ but in fact something else.”