The deserted road past Llyn Ogwen and Tryfan. Photo: NWMRA

The deserted road past Llyn Ogwen and Tryfan. Photo: NWMRA

Mountain rescuers in north Wales are urging hillgoers to be patient, and not become a patient.

The umbrella body for teams in the area thanked people for respecting Welsh Government rules and staying away from the area’s mountains.

North Wales Mountain Rescue Association reminded walkers and climbers that, unlike in England, it is not permitted to drive to a location to take your exercise.

Chris Lloyd, of the association said: “The mountains remain quiet apart from the sounds of the sheep and the birdsong. And it is important that they do so.”

He explained why it is important to stay off the hills. “Mountain rescue teams are staffed by volunteers. During this Covid-19 pandemic, a number of these volunteers are not available as they either work for or share a house with someone who works for the health services or other key jobs.

“Other team members may choose not to increase the risk of infecting themselves and their families by attending rescues, where the casualty or fellow team members may be carrying this virus. As a result, the mountain rescue service is be reduced.

There is a further reduction, should team members be exposed to a casualty or another team member who is carrying the virus. Then, all will have to be quarantined until given the all clear.

“Similarly, vehicles and rescue equipment that has been put at risk of infection has to be quarantined for three days, further limiting resources.

“Trying to maintain social distancing on a crag, carrying out ropework and carrying a stretcher is not possible, thus increasing the risk.

“Mobilising a rescue party, all in individual vehicles, chokes the country roads. While there may be no visitors, the local farmers are moving stock back onto the mountains.”

Mr Lloyd said teams have been able to obtain personal protective equipment but it has been designed for indoor use.

“Pacing up a mountain, carrying a heavy load with a cotton shield over your nose and mouth is not pleasant. A polythene apron is just not practical so full waterproofs are to be worn, whatever the weather. Working in the rain and wind with a clear visor covering your face is not practical. Goggles or safety spectacles are worn.

“Please be patient and not be a patient. Our mountains remain closed to visitors until the government of Wales instructs otherwise. But they will still be here when the pandemic is over.

“Please do not put members of the mountain rescue teams at additional risk and the staff of the health service should you have an injury.

“Thank you for staying away. I am sure that you appreciate the concerns of mountain rescue team volunteers.”

The Welsh Government said any changes would be based on a ‘traffic-light’ system covering various activities. Under the current red status, only local travel is permitted.

Travel for leisure purposes and meeting for exercise with small groups of family or friends will be allowed if there is a change to amber.

Only when a green status is in place will a full return to all leisure activities and unlimited travel be permitted.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The challenges we face are shared with all parts of the United Kingdom. For that reason, we have always strongly supported a four-nation approach to the lifting of the lockdown.

“But this has to respect the responsibilities of each government to determine the speed at which it is safe to move and the balance to be struck between different forms of ‘easement’ – how to prioritise between allowing people to meet up with close family, to go shopping or to the hairdresser, to get back to work or visit the seaside.

“With limited headroom to ease the current restrictions, choices need to be made and we want to make those choices in consultation with our partners and the people of Wales.

“But for the next two weeks, at least, I urge everyone in Wales to stick to the advice: stay home, protect our NHS and save lives.”

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