THE decision by a group of people to travel all the way from Coventry to Durdle Door over the weekend despite the national lockdown has been slammed.

Dorset Police said travelling more than 170 miles for "exercise" was "completely unacceptable".

A spokeswoman for the force confirmed two people were issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching Covid-19 regulations on Saturday morning.

A Dorset councillor said those breaking the rules were "really unhelpful", adding that she did not understand why anyone would make the trip given the coronavirus situation.

Officers had been carrying out proactive proactive patrols throughout the county, including at the Lulworth Estate, when they came across a group of people at Durdle Door.

The Dorset Police spokeswoman said: "Our officers, including our dedicated Covid-19 patrol officers, will continue to use a 4 Es approach of escalation, where they will engage, explain and encourage people to follow the regulations.

"Where this is not effective, then enforcement action will be taken when reasonable, proportionate and in line with COVID-19 regulations.

"Positive cases are rising at an unprecedented scale nationally and tragically over 80,000 people have died with the virus. More than 1,000 people were dying a day last week. The situation is dire both nationally and in Dorset. Our NHS colleagues are struggling to cope with the demand being placed upon them and are putting themselves at risk every day to protect the lives of others. The number of people in Dorset’s hospitals battling coronavirus has doubled since New Year’s Eve and it is anticipated we have not yet reached the peak.

"We all have a social responsibility to stick within the rules and we would ask that people behave responsibly to save lives and protect the NHS."

Councillor Laura Miller, Dorset Council and portfolio holder for adult social care and health, spoke out about the latest incident of the rules being flouted.

“Perhaps this lockdown isn’t being taken as seriously, so I’m not surprised but I am disappointed, especially when you’re seeing so much in the media about the pressure hospitals and the social care sector are under," said Cllr Miller.

"I just don’t understand the mentality.”

Over the weekend, police officers were also seen in Bournemouth town centre responding to a small anti-lockdown protest, with a number of fixed penalty notices dished out.

Cllr Miller added: “I think that what Dorset Police are doing reflects the pressure that is currently in the system. They do have the power to issue fines and they should be using it. If you’re travelling large distances it’s just nonsense.

“I think giving people fines is the right thing to do.

"You do have to question why people would travel that far. I think it’s really unhelpful."

Cllr Miller said residents of Dorset and the rest of the country should refrain from travelling outside of their local area during this time.

She said: “I don’t understand why anybody would do this at the moment. It’s really easy to access information about the pressure the NHS is under, and some people have been shielding for nearly a year with some people being so careful.

“So, I would say to those people travelling, what gives you the right to travel so far and risk spreading the virus even more?”

Lulworth Estate owner James Weld said car parks had been very quiet since the national lockdown was implemented, with around two or three cars most of the time and at most 30 over the weekend.

He added that as far as estate staff are aware, all other vehicles were local visitors.