Car parks in the Yorkshire Dales have reopened and public toilets will be open ‘as soon as possible’ after the Government’s easing of the lockdown restrictions.
From Wednesday, the Government is allowing people to exercise outside as many times each day as they wish and has stated that people may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there.
David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said this was not the approach they were advocating amid concerns that visitors to rural areas could increase the spread of the virus.
“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, he added: “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.
“We will therefore be opening the authority-run car parks from today and will strive to open toilets as soon as possible; they will be deep cleaned and have new cleaning regimes implemented.
“By making this decision we’re seeking to mitigate the parking by visitors in village centres and on verges.
“Our message to visitors and residents over the next few weeks is around respect.”
The park authority has urged visitors to do three things when they visit the national park:
- Respect the Land – Exercise within your limitations to keep pressure off local resources, and know the countryside code (you can download it here). Take care to respect the plant and wildlife which has thrived during lockdown.
- Respect the Community – We recognise that many in the local community are amongst some of the most vulnerable groups of people. Many still need to self-isolate. While walking, please keep a safe distance from homes, schools, and farms.
- Respect each Other – Stay two metres apart, keep within your family/household groups, and avoid gathering in Dales towns and villages where many of the shops and services remain closed. Finally, be kind and respect one another – whether visitor or local.
Mr Butterworth added: “It is important that everyone continues to act responsibly, as the majority have done to date. The virus will only spread further and put more people at risk if the guidelines are not adhered to.” [kofi]