Arrival of visitors in Yorkshire Dales raises concern among locals as coronavirus crisis deepens

A Dales county councillor said she would be asking Government for guidance after large numbers of visitors arrived in the Yorkshire Dales, despite the Prime Minister urging the public to stay at home due to the coronavirus.

Cllr Yvonne Peacock, county councillor for the Upper Dales, said there was a “nervousness” among residents about the number of tourists who had arrived in the national park in recent days.

The community leader said it was felt the numbers of visitors could put the area’s large population of elderly residents at risk.

She said: “There’s a nervousness because it’s felt we could potentially escape the worst of the virus in rural areas, but not if people bring the virus with them.

“People are also concerned about the pressure it is putting on local shops. They’re struggling to cope with demand from locals as it is without having to feed large number of visitors too.

“But it’s very difficult as accommodation providers are still allowed to be open. I plan to ask the government for guidance on the issue.”

Cllr Peacock said the Yorkshire Dales were not alone in having concerns, with the issue also affected areas such as Devon and Cornwall, where locals have expressed concern about the potential impact on local health services should they have to deal with a large number if visitors who caught the virus.

One Wensleydale resident, who ask not to be named, told Richmondshire Today: “It’s really important for people to exercise and get fresh air.

“But my understanding was they should be doing this in their own areas – Bainbridge, Hawes and Askrigg are so busy today with so many tourists.

“Surely this is going to lead to greater risk of the virus being spread.”

A number of social media users have questioned why there are so many visitors now in the park, with some campsites in the Dales reported to have numerous motorhomes parked up.

During the 2001 foot and mouth crisis in 2001 footpaths in the national park were closed.

However, the Government has said the public can go for walks in the country during the current crisis.


  1. Outdoor recreation has substantial benefits to both physical and mental health, which may be all the more valuable given the other restrictions being placed on society, and outdoor activities such as hill-walking, mountaineering, climbing and ski-mountaineering can be enjoyed while maintaining social distancing.

    However there are a number of considerations that should be weighed up before taking any decisions.

    Against the benefit of taking cash to rural economies there is the risk of bringing infection into a rural community with limited medical resources. There’s also the possibility of having an accident either while travelling to the hills or once there. As well as using up pressured NHS resources, those dealing with accidents are put at increased risk of infection.

  2. Yes and someone needs to remind visitors that the nearest A&E is 52 miles away

  3. As a home carer in leyburn I am very concerned for my elderly clients movement of people should be limited to their own areas and not allowed to visit the dales don’t think some people I understand the severity of this virus

  4. I wonder if we could politely ask the fish and chip shop and pizza take away to close like everyone else so the motorbikers etc don’t stop. Maybe some big bales dropped in the approach roads? Most of our 70 year olds are still working the farms and lambing has started… the local people need protecting.

  5. The YDNPA’s first post (now taken down) practically encouraged people to come to the Dales. Those that wrote it and published it, and showed such poor judgement, particularly Carl Lis, need to consider whether they are fit for office.

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