Concerns grow in Matlock Bath that easing lockdown could see visitors turn it into a coronavirus hotspot

Concerns are growing that Matlock Bath could become a coronavirus hotspot as lockdown restrictions ease after a 'growing minority' flouted rules by travelling to the beauty spot.

Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 10:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th May 2020, 10:24 am
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, huge crowds continued gathering in Matlock Bath.
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, huge crowds continued gathering in Matlock Bath.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, Derbyshire Police issued tickets and seized a number of bikes in the village after people made ‘non-essential journeys’ .

It is fuelling fears that people may resume normal activities before it is safe to do so. In the early days of the Covid -19 outbreak, Matlock Bath hit the headlines when crowds descended, ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Parish council chairman Coun Peter Baranek said: “The whole situation is a very problematic thing for us here. It is the vagueness of everything in the guidance which hasn’t helped.

Derbyshire's road policing unit seized motorbikes from riders flouting lockdown rules in Matlock Bath over the Bank Holiday.

“People didn’t know at first if they could drive somewhere for a walk and then had to be told to stay locally and that was a problem – and still is for us.”

While Derbyshire Dales has so far registered one of the lowest death counts of the county’s nine local authority areas, the danger posed by increased travel has prompted some speculation about specific restrictions being enforced for the Peak District.

Peter said: “Whether the Peak District will need it I don’t know, but it is a big magnet with people coming from all over, especially Manchester, Sheffield and Derby. We are more accessible than the Lake District.

“How it can be managed, I don’t know. Trying to keep social distancing in Matlock Bath will be a problematic thing. In many areas, the pavement isn’t wide enough for that and many of the shops and cafes are small.”

He added: “The reason Matlock Bath is even here is because of tourism and without tourism it will lose its identity, it would become just another village.

“I’d like to think it will still have that after all of this but in a different form.

“The concern is that as soon as we open up again and visitors from all over the place come back, that may soon change.

“Since lockdown, the village has been left to the residents, which I admit some are quite enjoying.

“But it is having a detrimental effect on businesses.”

He concluded: “How the village will open again is quite difficult. I don’t know how it can be managed.”