Health officials and police in North Yorkshire are urging the public to “show respect” to others as the county enters its first weekend in months with the stay-at-home order removed.
The Easter bank holiday will mark the first weekend since the third national lockdown began on January 5 that people can now leave home without a reasonable excuse – and officials are expecting an influx of visitors to North Yorkshire’s national parks, beauty spots and coastal towns.
Outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households are also now allowed and while Richard Webb, the county council’s director of health and adult services, said people should “make the most” of the relaxed rules, he urged them to “treat communities as you would wish your community to be treated”.
“Hands, face, space and fresh air – that is what we all need to remember,” he told a briefing of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum today.
“And when it comes to space, North Yorkshire has more than any other part of England so please make the best use of that. Spread out, stay local, discover the quiet places and avoid the crowded ones.
“Show respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for communities. That respect means all of us being careful as we enjoy some of our newly-restored freedoms.”
Mr Webb also said while it was “good news” that the county’s weekly infection rate had now fallen to levels last seen in September, the figure of 44 cases per 100,000 people was still “too high”.
A breakdown of the figures show Selby has the highest rate in the county with 94, followed by Scarborough at 48, Craven 47, Harrogate 34, Richmondshire 31, Hambleton 27 and Ryedale 21.
Since the stay-at-home order was removed on Monday, there are now no restrictions on the distance people can travel in England, although the advice is to keep this to a minimum and plan ahead.
North Yorkshire Police chief inspector Charlotte Bloxham told today’s briefing that the force will be discouraging visitors from travelling into the county over the weekend when patrols will also be stepped up to make sure people are sticking to the rule of six.
She said: “Our plea to everyone this Easter is to be extremely careful and keep following the regulations until it is safe to resume a more normal way of living.
“We have come too far and made too many sacrifices for this effort to be wasted now.”
Tom Hind, chief executive officer at North York Moors National Park Authority, also said it was important for people to enjoy the outdoors but urged them to do it safely by avoiding busy areas.
“We recognise just how important that ability to get back out into the great outdoors is for people as the toll that the lockdowns have taken on people’s mental health and well-being is really significant,” he said.
“But it has always to be borne in mind that national parks are also somebody else’s back garden so please show respect for the local communities.”