Yorkshire Dales bosses have pleaded with walkers to stay away. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Yorkshire Dales bosses have pleaded with walkers to stay away. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Outdoor enthusiasts are again being urged to stay at home over the weekend, as the coronavirus lockdown continues.

The UK Government this week announced restrictions on activities were being extended by another three weeks in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19.

National park bosses and police forces repeated their pleas to stay away from the honeypot areas and for people to take their permitted daily exercise close to home.

David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: “People must not be making unnecessary trips to, or around the national park.

“In particular, exercise should be done locally, and people should not be making special journeys to access the countryside. Our ranger service will once again be supporting North Yorkshire and Cumbria police in the national park over the weekend, encouraging people to heed this advice”.

National park offices, visitor centres, car parks and toilets are all closed, while public rights of way remain open for local people to take exercise, and shop for essentials. It is important these are not blocked or obstructed.

“Where rights of way pass close to, or through residential and agricultural properties, Government advice regarding social distancing and hand washing should be strictly adhered to.”

Mike Walker, Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police said: “If we continue to follow the guidance to stay home, we will continue to see a slowing in the spread of Covid-19, meaning the virus will be beaten all the sooner.

“That’s why we are again asking residents of North Yorkshire and those who live outside the area, but love to visit, to please work with us and stay home this weekend.”

Police in Cumbria, part of which covers the Yorkshire Dales national park, echoed the advice.

Cumbria Constabulary’s Chief Constable, Michelle Skeer said: “When leaving home, we need to continue to do what is necessary and reasonable and this includes where we exercise.

“Now is not the time for people to be travelling to Cumbria to exercise in our rural communities or visit the national parks. I am pleased that most people understand this.”

Visitors are being urged to avoid the Lake District fells. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Visitors are being urged to avoid the Lake District fells. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Speaking of the Lake District, which her force also covers, Chief Constable Skeer said: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone in Cumbria who has been following the government guidelines over the last three weeks, this is helping to save lives.

“It is important that we focus on why the restrictions remain – which is to save the lives of people in our community and support our colleagues caring for those in our local hospitals.

“The guidance from the government remains that exercise should be done locally, using open spaces near to your home where possible and people should travel only when necessary and for a short distance.

“Travelling from other areas, like we have seen recently from Middlesex, Plymouth and Leeds to enjoy our local areas is not necessary or reasonable. We need the continued support of the public and the Lake District will be here when this is over and we will welcome you when it’s safe to do so.

“Our officers will continue to patrol all areas across the county and where they come across people travelling unreasonably or people failing to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, they will engage with them, explain the guidance and encourage people to go home, only as a last resort where reason fails, enforcement action will be taken.”

Lake District National Park Authority chief executive, Richard Leafe said: “At this time, we continue to ask people not to travel to the Lake District national park. Please help keep our largely rural communities safe by exercising locally.

Lake District chief executive Richard Leafe. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lake District chief executive Richard Leafe. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

“The Lake District will be here for the nation to enjoy when this situation is over. But for now we ask everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Andy Wilson, chief executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority, added: “Government guidance remains the same.

“We must all continue to take responsibility for helping to slow the spread of Covid-19 and we can do this by simply staying at home and avoiding all nonessential travel. The government has permitted that people can leave their homes for exercise, but they have advised that this should be done locally using open spaces near to your home.”

There has been confusion over what is allowed under the coronavirus regulations after it emerged the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and the College of Policing had issued guidance to officers on what constituted a reasonable excuse to leave your residence. The document was produced in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service and applies to England only. Other UK nations have legislation that differs from England’s.

The NPCC guidance says it is likely to be considered reasonable under the law to drive to countryside and walk, where far more time is spent walking than driving. Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise is unlikely to be reasonable.

It says: “Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise. However, a very short period of ‘exercise’ to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that the person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ but in fact something else. It is lawful to drive for exercise.”

Acceptable forms of exercise include going for a run or cycle or practising yoga; walking in the countryside or in cities; and attending an allotment.

North Wales Police said, despite contradicting media reports relating to exercise guidance the force is reminding people that north Wales is currently closed to visitors.

Wales's most popular mountain Snowdon is among those closed. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Wales's most popular mountain Snowdon is among those closed. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: “Our tourist attractions, mountains, pubs, restaurants, caravan, holiday parks and campsites are all closed.

“We completely understand that people want to go outside to enjoy the warm weather predicted for the weekend, however this is a national emergency and we will continue to ensure government guidelines around essential travel and social distancing are adhered to.

“Please only travel if your journey is absolutely essential. This means either shopping for food or medicine and for traveling to and from work if you cannot work from home.

“Our policing style remains unchanged, and we will be operating in a very visible way on our road networks and in towns and villages ensuring that people are complying with the restrictions. Our actions will remain proportionate and fair at all times, and we know from working with our communities here that people are supportive of our actions.

“It is not regarded as essential travel to drive to the national park and other beauty spots to walk or exercise. Neither is it essential travel to drive to second and holiday homes. Please stay in your primary residence. North Wales will still be here once the pandemic is over and we look forward to getting things back to normal and welcoming people back as soon as we can.

“The guidance from the UK Government and Welsh Government remains that exercise should be done locally, using open spaces near to your home where possible.”

Emyr Williams, chief executive of Snowdonia National Park Authority, said: “Unprecedented scenes of visitors flocking to Snowdonia some weeks ago meant that the authority had to take steps to close the area’s popular mountain areas and sites in order to protect local communities and health services.

“All of the authority’s car parks and public toilets were also closed. To anyone considering visiting Snowdonia over the weekend the message remains – do not visit the national park until the Government’s guidelines to avoid unnecessary travel has been lifted.

Snowdonia national park chief executive Emyr Williams. Photo: Alan Dop

Snowdonia national park chief executive Emyr Williams. Photo: Alan Dop

“Snowdonia will still be here when this is all over, and we look forward to welcoming visitors back when things are back to normal.”

North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Walker said: “We heard the news from the government this week that, thanks to the public listening to the stay home advice, there are indications that the spread of Covid-19 is slowing.

“However, it was also made clear that the fight against this virus is not over and to push the rate of infection down further, three more weeks of lockdown have been announced.

“We understand that asking people to continue to stay at home is challenging, especially at weekends when the weather is good. We know that it’s tempting for those who live outside of North Yorkshire to get into the car to visit the region and enjoy our open spaces or coast line. However, if you choose to ignore the advice and travel unnecessarily, you are putting the benefits we are beginning to see, thanks to the sacrifices made by millions over the past weeks, at risk.

“Our task remains unchanged and we will be continuing our high-visibility patrols and engaging, explaining and encouraging members of the public to continue to follow the guidance.

“The recent guidance issued to forces by the CPS regarding what constitutes a reasonable journey still requires police officers to use their judgement and discretion to assess each situation. This does not change our policing approach in North Yorkshire and our officers will continue to use their professional judgement.

“In some circumstances we may have to use enforcement as a last but necessary resort, to keep the public safe.

“This is not about trying to find justification for a day out or loopholes to side step the advice. The truth is stark – if you do travel further than you absolutely have to, you are risking the spread of the virus, your own lives and that of others.

“So please, continue with what you have already been doing and stay home, so we can beat this pandemic together and allow life to return to normal as quickly as possible.”

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