Police and park officials urge visitors to stay away from Yorkshire Dales this weekend

Swaledale, by Stephen Garnett. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

North Yorkshire Police supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have issued a clear message ahead of the weekend, stay away from our beauty spots, stay home and save lives.

Officers are calling on people not to travel to popular countryside beauty spots – either by car or motorcycle – for exercise or any other non-essential reason.

Chief Inspector Ed Haywood-Noble, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Earlier this week, the Government announced significant changes to our way of life, instructing us to stay at home and only make essential journeys.

“We do not want to see people travelling to beauty spots in rural areas for exercise or any other reason. In particular, do not arrange to meet up with family or friends. Instead, take your exercise near your home, with members of your household.

“And whether you’re in a car or on a motorcycle, do not go out ‘just for a drive’ or a ride in the countryside. What if you break down, or have a crash? You are putting lives at risk.

“So this weekend, officers across rural North Yorkshire will again be stopping vehicles and asking motorists where they are going, why they are going there, and reminding them of the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Yesterday, police in Richmondshire joined forces with the Royal Military Police to stop and speak to motorists around Catterick Garrison, as well as Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales. One motorist spoken to from Darlington even told officers they were driving to Aysgarth “for some fresh air”.

Hard-hitting police leaflets have been printed and will be left on cars with a clear message: ‘Unnecessary travel should be entirely avoided’.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority lchairman Carl Lis said: “It really couldn’t be clearer, could it? Follow the Government directive and medical guidance.

“Visitors should not be coming to the National Park and local people should not be making unnecessary journeys around it. Please help the police to help us all.”

Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park, said: “Do not turn a beauty spot into a virus swap. Follow Government guidance and only travel for essential purposes – which does not include exercise. This is the best way to protect everyone from both town and country. Stay home, exercise near home, protect yourselves and reduce the burden on the NHS.”

Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council and chair of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: “We cannot urge people strongly enough to follow the Government ruling on travel.  People need to stay at home because if you travel further than you should, this will only serve to accelerate the rate of infection and more people will die.

“If people want to walk and exercise they need to do this from their own front door, once a day for a limited period, observing social distancing and keeping two metres away from anybody they are not living with.

“The message from Government and from all the agencies who care for people in North Yorkshire could not be clearer. We need to protect our communities and if we have an influx of visitors travelling to the coast and beauty spots as last weekend more lives will be lost.

“These are grave and extremely challenging times and we must all play our part in meeting the challenges in the right way.”

Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, also asked rural residents to do their bit. He said: “People living in the Dales, Moors and other rural areas can also help us protect the NHS and save lives.”

Officers and PCSOs from the Rural Taskforce will be working alongside Neighbourhood Policing Teams across the North Yorkshire countryside.

They will be urging people to behave responsibly – for example, where rights of way pass close to, or through residential and agricultural properties, it is important that the existing Government advice regarding social distancing and hand washing is adhered to.

Insp Hagen added: “If you are walking your dog as a form of exercise in the countryside, keep it under control and on a lead near livestock. This advice applies all the time but please take particular care now – farmers and vets do not need any extra work.”