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Public urged not to visit Lake District yet

Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert

Posted on 14 May 2020

Following the relaxing of lockdown restrictions, the clear message from Cumbria and the Lake District is now is not the time to visit the area.

With the Prime Minister announcing a lifting of the restrictions on travel and exercise there are fears an influx of visitors will put local communities and emergency services at further unnecessary risk. As the county continues to experience one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country, with higher numbers of infections and deaths than elsewhere and shops and visitor amenities still closed, Cumbria’s multi-agency Local Resilience Forum is asking people to stay local for their exercise and not rush back to the Lake District just yet.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, Chair of Cumbria’s Local Resilience Forum, said:

“We know people love the Lakes and when the time is right we will of course warmly welcome back visitors. But now is not the right time. Cumbria has been one of the worst affected parts of the UK and Coronavirus is far from over, we still have people being infected and people dying in the county on a daily basis. People coming into the county from elsewhere just makes the job of containing and controlling the outbreak more difficult. We’ve said it before, the Lake District isn’t going anywhere, so please put off your visit for now.”

For those that do decide to visit the area despite local concerns there three key messages:

Respect our local communities

  • Be considerate and don’t do things that increase the risk or cause problems for local people, particularly the vulnerable: avoid using paths through farmers’ yards; keep your dog on a lead and take your litter home.
  • Plan ahead and avoid busy places: use saferlakes.co.uk to park safely and considerately and avoid the more popular destinations.
  • Bring your own food and drink to avoid pressure on local shops.
  • Consider the lack of toilet and washing facilities and don’t behave in an anti-social manner.

Respect the risk

  • Cumbria continues to record new cases of the virus every day and the threat has not gone away
  • Don’t take risks on the fells, on the water or on the roads. Stay within the limits of your ability and equipment at all times.
  • If you get into trouble help may take longer to arrive and you will put unnecessary additional pressure on local health and emergency workers as well as volunteer mountain rescue and coastal rescue services.

Respect the rules

  • Observe all the Government’s social distancing rules.
  • No overnight stays, no camping, no visiting second homes.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands regularly.

Richard Leafe, Chief Executive at the Lake District National Park Authority, said:

“We understand that people are keen to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of the Lake District National Park, however we’re appealing to people not to rush back. Many of the facilities that visitors usually enjoy, such as toilets, restaurants and campsites, are not open, so it’s a very different experience in the National Park at the moment.  If people are exercising, we’d urge you not to take unnecessary risks to help protect our volunteer mountain rescue service and local communities.”

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:

“We have had well over 2000 confirmed infections and around 400 deaths as a result of COVID-19 and it’s only as a result of the lockdown restrictions that those grim totals aren’t even worse. We understand that lockdown can’t last forever, we certainly don’t want it to, but I’d urge people to really consider whether a visit to the Lake District is the right thing to do at the current time. As the Government says, the best way to beat this virus remains to stay home as much as possible.”

Allerdale leadership has spoken out in support of the LRF’s position on visitors to the area. 

Cllr Mike Johnson, Deputy Leader, said: "We stand united with our partners in calling on the public not to visit our part of Cumbria quite yet while we are still battling the coronavirus. We certainly understand why so many people want to return to this beautiful area and we will welcome them back when the time is right. 

"At the moment we are concerned that too many visitors will negatively impact our communities and local services, such as the NHS and mountain rescue teams. Please also bear in mind that that many of our residents are elderly who are more susceptible to the coronavirus and we ask you not to put them - and other people who live here - at further risk. 

"However, for those who do decide to come to Cumbria please respect our local communities and respect the rules that are in place around social distancing." 

Cllr John Cook, Executive member with responsibility for tourism, said: "While everyone involved in tourism in Cumbria is keen to see visitors coming back now is just not the time to be exploring the Lakes, the Solway Coast or anywhere else in Allerdale. The attractions you'd normally come here and use are closed, the shops which are open are only operating to meet the needs of the local population. 

"The amazing scenery, ancient landscapes and places to visit in Allerdale will still be here in a few months time, please wait until then to visit."