Couple in their 50s fined after driving 120 miles to watch seals during lockdown

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3-min read
A grey seal with her newborn pup on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk, as the pupping season begins at one the UK's most important sites for the mammals. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
The couple travelled to see seals on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk (Getty)

A couple have been fined after driving more than 120 miles to watch seals during lockdown.

A man and woman, both aged in their 50s, travelled from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, to visit a beach in Horsey, Norfolk, on Thursday.

Officers carrying out patrols at around 4pm approached the couple in a car park when checks revealed their vehicle was registered to an address outside of the county, police said.

They both admitted they had travelled to see the seals and were then issued with a fixed penalty notice, Norfolk Constabulary confirmed.

Police forces across the country have been ramping up efforts to crackdown on coronavirus lockdown flouters due to concern over the level of public compliance with current regulations, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Read more: Student turns COVID train seat cover into crop top and sells it on Depop

Wild Grey seal colony on the beach at Horsey UK. Beautiful aquatic animal group with various shapes and sizes of gray seal. Selective focus on foreground seals.
Wild Grey seal colony on the beach at Horsey (Getty)

Read more: Police crackdown on lockdown rule-breakers amid record number of COVID deaths

Norfolk Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Julie Wvendth, said: “The ‘stay at home’ rule is clear; you should only leave your home for a reasonable excuse such as food shopping, caring for someone who is vulnerable and for one form of exercise a day. If you do need to leave home for any of these reasons, you should stay local.

“The government have outlined that staying local means staying in the village, town or part of the city where you live. It’s our responsibility to adhere to this no matter how tempting it is to travel for a change of scene.”

Norfolk Constabulary said officers would be carrying out dedicated COVID-19 patrols in town centres and beauty spots to make sure people followed lockdown rules.

It added they would stop and speak to people and ask about the reasons for being away from their home address.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Wvendth, who denied roadblocks would be used, added: “Officers will use their discretion, as they routinely do in the course of their duties when dealing with people who have travelled away from their home.

“We will be proportionate in our approach but if we find people are blatantly breaking the rules, we will issue fines.

“We are almost a year into this pandemic; people know the rules and the risks associated with breaking them, so people do not have any excuse for not knowing what is expected.”

Read: 50 areas of England now have more than 1,000 COVID cases per 100,000 people

On Friday the UK recorded its highest single-day death toll for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Current rules state that the public must stay at home and limit exercise to once per day while staying inside their local area.

However, the legislation in England does not specify the distance someone can travel to exercise.

Home secretary Priti Patel, defended the tougher approach when asked whether police would question people sat on park benches during the lockdown.

"It's right that police act robustly," she told BBC Radio 4.

Watch: Baby Animals of 2020