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Coronavirus - People Urged to Keep Away from the Hills

© Dan Bailey

Despite government advice to limit travel and maintain social distance in order to limit the spread of coronavirus, visitors are reported to be flocking to the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands and other 'remote' areas. Authorities and local residents are urging people to stay away from these rural areas with limited healthcare facilities.

New COVID-19 guidelines on travel and exercise are in place as cases continue to rise.  © Dan Bailey
New COVID-19 guidelines on travel and exercise are in place as cases continue to rise.
© Dan Bailey

"Now that pubs, restaurants, cafes and non-essential shops and visitor attractions have been advised to close, the Lake District is no longer conducting business as usual" said Cumbria Police in a statement today.

"Whilst it is encouraging that the Highways Agency have reported fewer vehicle journeys than normal, it is clear that we, along with other tourist areas such as Cornwall, Wales and Scotland, are continuing to experience an influx of travelling visitors."

The message comes from Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, the Chair of the Cumbria Local Resilience Forum - which is responsible for the multi-agency response to civil emergencies - and follows the Government steps taken yesterday to reduce the spread of coronavirus by closing businesses such as pubs, cafes and gyms.

"Whilst we are looking at all measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, I must urge people living outside the county not to visit" he said.

"A national emergency shut-down of businesses and schools is not an excuse for a holiday."

"Cumbria County Council yesterday urged people to stay at home as far as possible to protect out NHS and save lives. I reiterate that advice and it is important that we all follow it.

"The health, social care and emergency services in Cumbria are resourced to serve the 500,000 resident population and will be stretched to breaking point by this crisis. Large numbers of visitors will only place an additional burden on these hard-pushed professionals.

"People are safest and their health and that of their families is best protected by staying at home and heeding advice on social distancing.

"These are unprecedented times and our first priority is the protection of life. People's lives must come first."

Scottish Mountain rescue took to Facebook to urge people to "stay local, stay safe".

"We are continuing to see rescues this weekend and significant activity on the hills in some areas" they posted.

"We do not have PPE within teams for COVID19, quite rightly the NHS staff and others must be prioritised. This is putting many team members in a genuine dilemma."

One Speyside-based Facebook user commented on the volume of traffic heading north on the A9, a point also made by Highland MSP Kate Forbes:

"If you live elsewhere, please stop using the Highlands as your means of self-isolation" she said earlier today.

"There are people here who are trying to follow government guidance and the steady stream of traffic escaping the cities to the Highlands and Islands is not helping. The First Minister and Prime Minister have been clear that non-essential travel must stop.

"You are risking lives by potentially transmitting the virus to a new community. This isn't a wilderness, it's home to people.

"Nobody is ever completely self-sustainable - even campervans will inevitably require provisions and fuel. Please stop taking risks.

"The Highlands welcomes guests and visitors all year, every year, from everywhere and anywhere. We are hospitable and welcoming, but this is a plea on behalf of fragile communities, with small grocery stores and fewer hospitals, and a higher proportion of older folks."

In North Wales the Daliy Post reported that the Pen y Pass car park was full this morning, with hundreds of cars parked along the roads, as large numbers flocked to Snowdon.

Snowdonia-based climber Nick Bullock took to Facebook to express his anger:

Outdoor writer Alex Roddie wrote about this very issue in a blog post today:

"I won't stop sharing photos and stories from the hills. The sense of hope that mountains can inspire is so important right now, and frankly outdoor writers and publishers are going to find survival hard too, but I will be thinking carefully about my messaging, and I'd urge everyone else to do the same.

"When you share any 'inspiration' content about the mountains on social media, please add something encouraging people not to travel to these places right now – or, at the very least, to avoid the busy areas. Have local adventures, fine, but anywhere further afield will wait. We need to help protect these places and the people who live there. I have friends in these places who are begging you not to come right now.

"Think before you tweet, and please stay at home if you can."


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21 Mar, 2020

To quote Glencoe mountain rescue in the last hour (and as someone who lives in a mountain community in North Wales)

...

IF YOU CAN'T SEE YOUR OUTDOOR OBJECTIVE FROM YOUR HOUSE, THEN YOU HAVE MADE A NON ESSENTIAL JOURNEY.

21 Mar, 2020

I'd prefer something a bit simpler like stay within three miles of your home. A lot of people can see a long way from their house and are still trying to justify driving and climbing trips which are non-essential.

21 Mar, 2020

Happy with that Tom. Whatever is enforceable!

A lot of people in N Wales are very angry and scared about the deluge of people arriving in our local area today.

For the last week we have been trying to isolate ourselves and our communities and if you (the generic you, not you Tom) came here today, from outside the area, you have completely disrespected our local communities.

Please do not come here and enjoy and explore the open spaces closer to you.

21 Mar, 2020

The Peak (Hope Valley) was crazy busy today, busiest I've seen it for a long time (I've lived here years 25+ years).

Madness.

21 Mar, 2020

Damn I cannot run that far in a day!

Seriously, I was out today and it was a stupid idea to do. I thought I was acting responsibly, but I certainly wasn't.

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