Malham Cove, seen before the lockdown, was one of the areas that attracted large numbers of visitors. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Malham Cove, seen before the lockdown, was one of the areas that attracted large numbers of visitors. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Police in North Yorkshire said the lockdown tide appears to be turning, with an increasing number of visitors ignoring the Covid-19 rules.

Officers issued 61 fines over the weekend, with 17 handed out in Malham, a hotspot for day-trippers.

People had travelled to the area from as far away as Kent. Others were from West Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. Police issued 13 fines in one hour in Malham as trippers flocked to the village. They were among 31 penalties handed out on Saturday.

Another 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 the 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.”

In north Wales, visitors were thanked for staying away from beauty spots over the weekend.

Denbighshire County Council and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty expressed gratitude to residents and visitors for staying away from the county’s honeypot areas.

Concerns were raised last week about an increase in visitors to Loggerheads and Moel Famau country parks as well sites at the Panorama and Horseshoe Falls in the Dee Valley. This prompted a warning from the council and North Wales Police for people to heed the national message and to stay at home.

The authority monitored the position over the weekend, supported by North Wales Police patrols and very few visitors were reported at these locations.

Councillor Tony Thomas, lead member for housing and communities, said: “We fully understand that the great weather makes it extremely tempting to go for exercise in our scenic countryside, but we are in the middle of a pandemic and we all need to listen to the stay at home messages.

“Generally, most people listen to the national guidance and exercise in their local community, but the blip we saw last week in some of our beauty spots did cause us some concern. That’s why we appealed to people to stay away

“We are very grateful to North Wales Police for providing a visible presence in the area. By working in partnership, we can really send a clear message for people to stay at home. When the time’s right, we will be welcoming people back to Denbighshire with open arms – but not quite yet.”

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