With temperatures below freezing and gusts of up to 40mph from the remnants of Storm Christoph, a BBQ was the last thing officers expected to see when they were called to the snow-covered moors above Waskerley yesterday.
But that’s exactly what officers found when they responded to reports of a party of 13 people enjoying the traditional summer activity at around 4pm.
When officers arrived, they found five adults from three different households, along with eight children, who had travelled around 20 miles from their homes in Gateshead.
Initially the adults said they did not believe they had done anything wrong but later accepted that the gathering was not only putting the whole party at risk of Covid-19 but could have also put an unnecessary strain on the emergency services if any of the three vehicles they were in crashed in the bad weather conditions.
All five adults were given £200 fines for breaching Covid-19 regulations and sent home with their children, the youngest being just seven months old.
Superintendent Ritchie Allen, of Durham Constabulary, said: “The vast majority of people across our communities are sticking to the regulations and we would like thank them for thinking of others and doing their bit to keep everyone safe.
“However, some people are bending the rules and putting others at risk. While we know the stay at home guidance has been particularly challenging for many people, travelling to host a BBQ get together with other households is not acceptable.
“Those in attendance risked not only their own lives but also those of others and could put extra pressure on an already struggling NHS.
“We would rather the public follow the rules than have to resort to issuing FPNs, but if we do get called to a blatant breach, we will look to issue fines to all those involved.
“Please think of others and if in doubt of the rules, check your local government website.”
Find government guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home.