RESIDENTS of a "very quiet" rural Dorset village have been left "surprised" after four people were fined for breaching Covid-19 restrictions.

Police were called to a "disturbance" at an address in Hazelbury Bryan at around 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 9.

Investigations found it was instead an illegal gathering and people had been "socialising" at the property.

Three people were initially issued Covid-19 fixed penalty notices of £200 while a fourth person was fined a week later.

The village, near Sturminster Newton, is built up with a number of hamlets, with a collective population of more than 1,000 people.

Locals found out about Covid-19 breach via news and social media

Salisbury Journal: St Mary & St James church in Hazelbury Bryan. Picture: GoogleSt Mary & St James church in Hazelbury Bryan. Picture: Google

Val Rubie, a councillor at Hazelbury Bryan Parish Council, said she and other residents had only found out about the Covid breach through local news reports.

She said: “Generally speaking, it has been very quiet during lockdown. There’s been no sight of people breaking the rules.

“We were all rather surprised it happened. Nobody really has any knowledge of it.”

She described the village as "a great place" and noted its older population have been self-isolating and "not putting themselves at risk" by leaving their homes.

Steve Murcer, parish council chairman, said he only found out about the incident on social media and called upon people to continue following the rules.

Other residents called upon people to continue abiding by the coronavirus lockdown measures, which strictly prohibit any indoor social mixing or unnecessary travel or contact with others.

One local, who asked not to be named, was left bemused by the Covid breach. He said: “It is frustrating that a majority of people follow the rules but some don’t.”

Another resident described Hazelbury Bryan as "a very small and private village" and added it is "very quiet". When asked for her thoughts about the Covid breaches, she simply said: “I do object to it”.

Council's praise for community spirit during the pandemic

Salisbury Journal: Hazelbury Bryan is a 'quiet village' based in North Dorset. Please note: Properties in photo are not where the Covid-19 breach occurred. Picture: GoogleHazelbury Bryan is a 'quiet village' based in North Dorset. Please note: Properties in photo are not where the Covid-19 breach occurred. Picture: Google

Despite the recent Covid breaches by four people, councillors were keen to point out the village’s community spirit and how its residents have supported each other during the pandemic.

Councillor Rubie said: “There have been a few fantastic people who have been doing deliveries from the Red Barn shop and we have been well looked after.

“The parish council’s focus, which we saw very early on, is to enable the shop to carry on as normal as we were worried in the early days whether or not it could still operate.

“I would like to pay tribute to Tara and Darren who run the Red Barn who have been great over the last year and we have been well looked after.

“We knew if we were stuck, we can just call them for help.”

Councillor Murcer explained the parish council had been heavily involved in supporting residents who are either self-isolating or shielding indoors and created a network of volunteers to deliver supplies to vulnerable locals.

He said: “We have done what we can to support people wherever they are.

“It’s not been an easy time for everyone and this lockdown in winter hasn’t been great.

“If you are stuck inside as it’s raining and freezing, the reaction to this lockdown has been more challenging and it is important we support others.”

What police said on the 'disturbance' in village

Salisbury Journal: Police in the village of Hazelbury BryanPolice in the village of Hazelbury Bryan

Following the Covid-19 rule breach, a spokeswoman for Dorset Police said: “We were called at around 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 9 to a report of a disturbance at an address in Hazelbury Bryan.

“Following enquiries into the matter, it was discovered that individuals had been socialising at an address, in breach of Covid-19 regulations.

“Three people were subsequently issued with £200 fixed penalty notices. A further person has now been issued with a £200 fixed penalty notice.”

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