North Yorkshire Police is urging day-trippers not to visit the Yorkshire Dales this weekend and warns of increased patrols.
The force says that over previous weekends the force has seen an increase in the number of people making unnecessary journeys into and around the region.
It adds that there will be increased their patrols and key routes will be monitored for signs of increased traffic and visitors to the area over the weekend.
Over 350 fixed penalty notices have been issued since the legislation was introduced in March and nearly half of those have been issued to non-residents who are coming into North Yorkshire, to visit an open space or beauty spot.
Speaking about the recent influx of day-trippers to North Yorkshire, Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “Usually we welcome visitors to North Yorkshire with open arms. However, for the sake of the health and safety of both the region and the nation, we are asking you to please stay away for the time being.
“We are aware of confusion that has arisen over the guidance around travelling for exercise and can understand that many people are looking for clarity around this issue.
“I believe the guidance issued by the UK Government couldn’t be clearer – to stop the spread of this potentially lethal virus, to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, our loved ones and our health service – we must all stay at home.
“In short, the virus moves if people move. So the way to stop the spread is to limit our movements down to only the very essential. I do not believe a group of friends travelling from West Yorkshire to climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks is essential nor do I believe a group of people travelling into the Yorkshire Dales from Bradford for a day out is essential. Exercise can be and should be taken locally following the Government guidelines, which have not changed since the day they were issued.
“Please believe me, I understand how important exercise is to people’s mental health.
“However, exercise can be taken from your doorstep and there is no reasonable or justifiable need to make a 50-mile trip to the coast, putting your own safety and the safety of others at risk. Not only that, by travelling long distances into unknown areas, you increase your chances of a road traffic collision, or needing emergency or medical assistance – all of which puts a strain on resources which should be focused on fighting COVID-19. That’s why our officers will be patrolling this weekend and continuing to engage, explain and encourage the public to do the right thing.
“Where needed, they will resort to enforcement to protect the public.”
Chair of North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, Richard Flinton, said: “For those who still think a drive into our countryside is just the ticket on a warm spring day then our message is very clear. If you flout the national lockdown rules you may receive the ticket you didn’t want – by way of a fine.
“We are working really hard to educate people, but ultimately you risk a penalty and we are looking at further visibility along key routes, to drive the message home to the minority who aren’t sticking to the rules.” [kofi]