Visitors to a Dales beauty spot abused and spat on the floor near police officers trying to move them on.
Day-trippers arrived at Malham Cove at the weekend from as far away as Kent, according to a report from one of the officers attending.
Despite numerous warnings to day-trippers to not visit North Yorkshire this weekend, police say they issued 61 fines this weekend to people who were not following government guidance and were making unnecessary journeys.
31 fines were issued on Saturday to people visiting from West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and as far away as Kent.
17 fines were issued in Malham alone – with 13 being written in an hour, as day-trippers thronged to the North Yorkshire village.
PC Jane Carpenter, who was on patrol in the village, said visitors claimed they were on their daily exercise, but arrived at the beauty spot with “shopping bags full of food”.
The officer said she had to call for back-up on several occasions while working at the visitor attraction on Saturday, adding that she received more abuse from the visitors than she ever did from “drunken idiots outside nightclubs”.
In an account on the shift posted on social media, the officer added: “Social distancing does not come into it when you are a cop… folks want to get in your face to give you the reasons that they are entitled to unnecessary travel with their friends from different households to exercise by carrying shopping bags full of food to beauty locations because they are feeling ill and want fresh air.
“One group spitting at the ground in front of me, one bloke screaming in my face in front of his children after he had also abused a farmer who had challenged him about his dog chasing sheep, and climbing over dry stone walls to avoid footpaths.”
The officer said she had dispersed a party on top of the cove, who had been abusing locals and having a barbecue.
She added: “There are face masks littering the Cove road — a bio-hazard which I am not prepared or equipped to pick up.
“The excuses were endless, including ‘BBC spreading lies’ ‘we don’t believe in the disease’ and ‘human rights’.”
A further 30 fines were issued on Sunday, with officers issuing six fines in Brotherton to people gathering to go off-road biking. Other unnecessary journeys included a man travelling from Yarm to Wakefield to pick up paint and two men travelling to Bradford to view a car.
Speaking about this weekend’s enforcement Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “Up until this weekend, the vast majority of both residents and visitors to North Yorkshire have acted responsibly and in accordance to government guidance and abided by the rules around only travelling for essential reasons.
“However, we are definitely starting to see a turning of the tide in some areas, with some blatantly ignoring the reason why we have been in a lockdown situation for the past five weeks and making a decision to no longer stay home and save lives.
“When it comes down to it, that’s what we are trying to do here – save lives. We are trying to stop the spread of a deadly virus which has, as this time, claimed the lives of over 20,000 people in this country and thousands more worldwide. The police have their role to play in protecting both the public of North Yorkshire from the spread of COVID-19 and our valuable health service and we remain fully committed to continuing this task.
“However, we need the support of the public and for some to realise and understand why they are being asked to continue to abide by the stay home rules. This virus is not yet beaten, the threat of a second peak of infection is very real, as we have heard from the Prime Minister himself this morning. That’s why we must keep on going – to protect our love ones; our children, partners, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.
“As I have previously mentioned, this is not about finding loopholes in the guidance to justify having a day out. This is about keeping your elderly, vulnerable grandmother safe, your asthmatic child safe or your diabetic father safe. So please think about why it’s important to you personally to stop the spread of this virus.
“Think about the personal reason, or the family member you are staying home for and if you can’t do it for the health and safety of the nation, please do it for them.”