Since the UK first went into lockdown on March 23, Yorkshire beauty spots have been continually hit hard with large numbers of visitors breaking the government guidelines in a bid to carry on as normal. And now, as those lockdown regulations begin to ease, tourism board Welcome To Yorkshire is urging people to stay away for the safety of our residents.
Sharing messages such as “Our message at present is a simple one. Imagine Now, Explore Later”, the tourism board joins a number of local MPs and authorities who have been calling for further policing in popular areas such as the Dales, Whitby and Malham – where tourists from as far as Kent have been flocking to enjoy the sunshine.
Coronavirus cases in Yorkshire have now reached a total of 12,783 (making it the fifth worst-hit region in England) and due to the small size of many communities in Yorkshire tourism spots, Welcome To Yorkshire have confirmed that the region is not currently ready to host visitors. A recent social media post reads: “At present we’re urging people to act responsibly & think twice about visiting Yorkshire’s tourism hotspots. Many countryside & coastal communities are not ready for a visitor influx.”
The North York Moors National Park Authority have also had their say on the easing of restrictions, with Andy Wilson, chief executive of the Authority, saying: “Unfortunately we cannot yet give you the welcome we would want. We must all act with caution and consider the potential impacts of not social distancing on local communities as well as other visitors. If you cannot keep two metres apart from those not in your own household, you are potentially spreading the virus and putting your own and others’ lives at risk.
“We must also consider that large gatherings at beauty spots will only make social distancing incredibly difficult and so please still consider using open spaces close to your own homes. Lastly, we must remember that our battle with Covid-19 is far from won and so for now: Stay apart. Act responsibly. Save lives.”
Earlier this week, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police force shared his concerns for the loosened guidelines, tweeting: “Policing Covid 19 has become impossible after today. My colleagues cannot Engage, Explain, Encourage or Enforce such woolly rules. This is now down to the public to Police itself. Please let’s avoid a second spike.”
The UK Coronavirus guidelines now allow the general public to travel as far as they’d like to enjoy the great outdoors, with Boris Johnson advising people to use the outdoors for unlimited exercise and leisure purposes as we begin to ‘exit’ the strict lockdown. And while the advice is said to be led by science, many have criticised the decision to lift the restrictions so soon, with Google searches for the Yorkshire Dales surging quickly after the announcement.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have shown their reluctance to re-open following the rile change with Chief Executive David Butterworth saying: “This is not the approach we were advocating. Since late April we have been in discussions with Defra about the ‘re-opening’ of the countryside and we, along with many organisations with countryside facilities, have advocated a staged approach with an initial ‘stay local’ message to avoid unnecessary travel and minimise any tension between visitors and local communities.
“However, that message has not prevailed and, as a public body, we are still expected to deliver the Government’s message and manage the situation as professionally and sensitively as we can.”
Boris Johnson recently revealed his plans to easing the UK back to some form of normality, with the next phase expected to see some children return to school, and rules lifted around seeing a limited number of friends and family again.