Community leaders and residents worried about the arrival of visitors to second homes in the Yorkshire Dales have called police demanding they take action.
Concerns are growing that people arriving in Richmondshire to stay in second homes and holiday cottages could increase the risk of the coronavirus spreading in rural towns and villages.
Upper Dales county councillor Yvonne Peacock said she had heard about a new arrival in her area over the weekend and would be contacting the police.
She said: “It’s absolutely wrong and I’m very concerned about the problem.
“The Government directive is very clear — people should stay in their own homes and a second home isn’t their own home.
“I am contacting the police when I hear of a case and I would urge others to do the same.”
A Wensleydale resident, who asked not to be named, said there had been several new arrivals in recent days at second homes in and around his village.
He said: “The instructions from the Government are clear.
“This is a pandemic which could harm our loved ones. The Dales are full of older, vulnerable and hard working people who are all following the rules.
“These people who are still travelling to second homes and holiday cottages could potentially be bringing the virus with them — it’s just selfish.”
Residents and community leaders in Coverdale have raised concerns after an Army major and his family was due to arrive this week at a holiday cottage in Melmerby.
It is understood Major Neil Foot-Tapping has returned from Kenya after the British Army evacuated its troops from the country due to the virus.
An email sent to local residents said the major would be staying at the holiday cottage for a “couple of months” and that he would be involved in helping the Army coordinate the coronavirus relief effort, although Richmondshire Today understands the officer will not be involved in the military’s response to Covid-19 at present.
It is understood the cottage is owned by the major’s friend who is allowing him to use it while he’s in the UK.
District councillor Sue Fairhurst said she believed the family should have been housed in Catterick Garrison until this emergency was over.
“We have a duty to protect all residents in our communities and particularly those who are shielding this move should not be allowed to go ahead .
“In Middleham we have had concerns from residents about the use of second homes and holiday homes during the present lockdown – the message is clear stay at home and do not move house during the lockdown.”
Local farmer Andrew Avison said a number of residents in the village were concerned about the new arrivals.
He said: “I’ve got nothing against him personally or the fact he has had to come back to the UK, but I don’t think it’s good protocol from the Army letting him rock up in a tiny village in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
“There’s at least three people in the village who are on the at risk list and he’s coming all from Kenya straight into the heart of our community.
“We have no services or facilities in the village — there’s forever of houses in Catterick Garrison he could live at until he’d at least self-isolated for 14 days.”
In response to the major’s arrival, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but to minimise exposure to COVID-19, Army personnel have been advised to return to their homes.
“Soldiers will be recalled when required, to support the COVID-19 Task Force.
“Personnel returning from overseas may be housed in temporary accommodation and we expect all our of personnel to adhere to Government and Public Health England guidelines.”
Mr Avison said he contacted police about the new arrivals but was told there was nothing they could do.
The owner of the cottage did not respond to a request to comment on the concerns.
North Yorkshire Police declined to comment.
Richmondshire Today understands that while the force will challenge motorists if they are found to be making an unnecessary journey, living in a second home is not illegal under the current lockdown rules and there is little officers can do when receiving a complaint from the public.