MP calls on Government for clearer guidance on exercising “locally” after another busy weekend at Dovestone

AFTER the latest weekend influx of visitors to Dovestone Reservoir, Oldham East and Saddleworth East MP Debbie Abrahams wants greater clarity from Government over Covid-19 lockdown guidelines.

She has now written to Home Secretary, Priti Patel and other top-ranking ministers seeking assurances that the interpretation of regulations is tightened to provide the police with increased options when it comes to enforcement.

MP Debbie Abrahams

Residents, particularly in Greenfield, says they are being put at greater risk of contracting coronavirus because Dovestone Reservoir and surrounding areas continues to attract thousands of day trippers.

Concerned Cath Knowles told the Independent: “People walking round Dovestone and Greenfield are not socially distancing.

“Visitors simply do not care. They are accessing local shops, walking around in large groups and not following guidance, they are picnicking, abusing the landscape with their rubbish.

“We have a mixed community of old and young people. Our elderly people are vulnerable and now we have this horrible new variant of Covid.”

Police, water, and council chiefs stepped up measures last weekend to reduce the number of visitors flouting Covid guidance at Dovestone.

Dovestone Reservoir last weekend

Now, Mrs Abrahams has written to the Home Secretary as well as Health Secretary, Matt Hancock plus Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick.

She said: “We have seen anti-social behaviour and the flouting of Covid restrictions in some beauty spots and open spaces in my constituency.

“This has been of particular concern at Dovestone Reservoir with social distancing being ignored and people clearly exercising with more than one person outside their household and not exercising locally.

“Given the seriousness of the new, more infectious Covid variant that we are also seeing here in Oldham and Saddleworth this is of course concerning.

“This is also causing great distress to residents living close to Dovestone.”

Mrs Abrahams suggests the problem is heightened by a lack of clarity over what constitutes exercising locally.

She added: “Greater Manchester Police have told me that the wording of the Covid guidance is open to some interpretation and the legislation that comes with it leaves some limited options around enforcement activity.

“As part of your regular review of guidelines can I urge you to give the public and the police, who have to enforce the rules, clearer guidance on what is and what is not acceptable during the pandemic as you did in the first lockdown last March.

“The seriousness of the new more infectious Covid-19 variant means we must act now.”

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