The authority pleaded with people not to come to the Peak District. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The authority pleaded with people not to come to the Peak District. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The boss of England’s oldest national park has pleaded with visitors to stay away.

Peak District National Park Authority chief executive Sarah Fowler said all its visitor facilities, including offices, ranger hubs and car parks, have closed.

“I have also asked our staff remain at home, unless undertaking essential safety tasks, in line with strict government guidance,” she said.

“It is now absolutely critical for our Peak District communities, businesses, farmers and key workers within the national park that we all take these measures extremely seriously. Which is why as well as us taking action I ask all our partners and many communities also to follow the government’s measures to the letter; ensuring that we do not put undue and unnecessary pressure on often limited local services and emergency personnel.

“As a chief executive and passionate advocate for all that our national parks stand for, it seemed almost unthinkable that we would arrive at a situation where I have, and must, ask those who do not live in, or work on essential services in, the Peak District to please stay away.”

The area is one of England’s most popular, with the major conurbations of Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire bordering the park.

Sarah Fowler: 'Please stay away'

Sarah Fowler: 'Please stay away'

Ms Fowler said: “We have weathered many challenges in our almost 70-year history and, when the time is right, we will once again welcome everyone to this place which so many millions of us love and hold dear.

“It is so often in these extraordinary circumstances that we learn the importance of nature, beauty and history to our health and sense of wellbeing. That’s why I feel so strongly that our individual efforts now to take on this battle against coronavirus are so important – so that we may once again be able to let nature help our personal and collective recovery.

“As we enter this period of unprecedented uncertainty, I ask everyone to heed the government’s advice and any information provided by the national park authority on the ground.

“I wish good health to you all and your families.”

The UK Government on Monday ordered the country’s population to stay at home under a partial lockdown, with the proviso that people can take one form of outdoor exercise, for example walking, cycling or running, alone or with household members, each day.

They can also go outside to shop for essentials such as food and medicine, and travel to work if unable to work from home, or to help or care for a vulnerable person. A distance of 2m should be maintained from other people at all times.

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