Ahead of the Easter weekend, Lake District voices have come together to plead for people not to travel to the national park for a day trip or to visit holiday homes.
Communities across the park are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and sadly the number of cases in Cumbria is rising rapidly. This has led to the National Park Authority, Cumbria Police, Cumbria Tourism, local business owners and the voluntary sector asking people to wait, now is not the time to visit the Lake District.
Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park, Richard Leafe says: “Please do not visit the Lake District for the day, or come to a holiday home - we will be here to welcome you back as soon as it’s safe to do so and we can’t wait for that time. Thank you to the thousands of people who have taken the advice stay at home - this really does save lives and helps to protect the Lake District that everyone loves.”
Cumbria Tourism’s president, Eric Robson, says: “Now is not the time to visit the Lake District, Cumbria. This will be an Easter like no other, but we urge visitors and second home owners to listen to the Government and to stay in their main residence to protect lives. This is vitally important not only to limit the spread of the disease but also to safeguard Cumbria’s local health services and infrastructure, which may well come under immense pressure just servicing local residents’ needs. We look forward to welcoming people back to our glorious landscape, but only when the time is right.”
Cumbria Police have been very clear in their advice to anyone who is thinking about travelling to or around the Lake District. Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery said: “If you are considering travelling to a second home or holiday home this weekend for the holidays, I ask you please follow Government guidance and stay at home and only leave when necessary.
"It is clear that holiday homes continue to be advertised in Cumbria and this is attracting holidaymakers. This causes friction with the resident population who are reporting activity to the police and other local authorities. We recognise that some businesses have already withdrawn their advertisements and are not taking bookings and we ask others follow that lead. Travelling unnecessarily to another part of the country to stay in a holiday cottage is contrary to the guidance issued by the Government and could result in prosecution.
“This is serious and we need to protect ourselves, our families and to protect our NHS. Every contact we avoid lessens the spread of the virus. This is not forever, and it is a small price to pay for saving lives.
“Those out exercising locally are reminded to consider the local communities they might come in contact with and stay two metres from others. It is very important to maintain mental and physical health and people are entitled to walk, run or cycle locally but we ask them to avoid passing through farmyards or close to rural homes if possible.
"I would appeal to everybody to remain calm and avoid seeking to blame other groups for the situation in which we find ourselves. Animosity between sections of the community is counter-productive and we all need to work together if we are to beat this virus. Please stick rigidly to the social distancing measures yourselves and leave the authorities to deal with those who do not.
“Officers will continue to be out in our communities providing advice and ensuring that people are complying with the law.”
The leaders of the twelve Lake District Mountain Rescue teams would like to reinforce the message about staying at home, explaining why it helps our NHS workers when the fells continue to remain quiet.
Richard Warren, Chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) that represents the twelve Cumbrian mountain rescue teams says, “We cannot stress enough the importance of staying at home.Apart from helping to save lives in the wider community it will reduce the risk of Covid19 infection to our volunteers during any rescue and helps reduce the workload on our NHS. Since the introduction of the stay at home policy sixteen days ago, Cumbria teams have only received just one ‘999’ call for someone who got into difficulty on the mountain.
“In 2019, over the same 16 day period our teams dealt with 28 callouts. These included 14 injuries and 6 medical emergencies.These would have required 20 ambulance requests and a similar demand on our A and E Departments.With the Easter weekend fast approaching and reasonably good weather forecasted the ‘Stay at Home’ message remains true.Thank you for staying at home, keeping the fells quiet, supporting our NHS and saving lives.”
For the latest information on the Lake District during coronavirus visit: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/coronavirus
Photo shows: Lake District National Park Authority car park at Rydal, where boulder stones have been placed to deter visitors from the Lake District during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.