Public thanked for “doing the right thing” by staying away from North Yorkshire visitor hot spots

Whernside. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

North Yorkshire police and council chiefs have thanked the public for “doing the right thing” over the weekend, despite 300 calls about Covid-19 rule breaches and 24 fines being issued.

Officials say there was only a handful of isolated issues reported over the weekend following widespread calls for people to wait until the county’s attractions and businesses reopened before visiting.

They added that the vast majority of people avoided rural and coastal visitor hot spots.

While highways crews and police reported there was an increase in vehicles in areas like the national parks and more walkers and cyclists exploring the countryside, the big picture was much less concerning than had been feared.

Richard Flinton, chair of North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: “The vast majority of people did the right thing and avoided potentially busy areas. We applaud everyone for that collective effort.

“There were measures in place in some key locations to minimise parking and better facilitate social distancing and these seem to have been largely welcome.

Compliance with the public health advice to stay at least 2 metres apart was broadly very good and we are grateful for the public’s continued support.  As we head towards a warm Bank Holiday weekend – everyone’s buy-in remains critical to reduce transmission of Covid-19 and save lives.

“Please continue to protect yourselves and your families by avoiding crowds and washing your hands regularly. It’s understandable that some communities are anxious about visitors so thank you for being thoughtful and considerate to the people living where you want to explore.

“Everything will still be here in a few weeks’ time and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to our beauty spots and the whole of North Yorkshire when it’s safe to do so and our shops, cafés and restaurants are open again.”

North Yorkshire Police’s Superintendent Charlotte Bloxham, silver commander for the response to Covid-19, added: “Our officers issued 24 fines over the weekend between Friday and Sunday.

“Despite being called to over 300 incidents where members of the public reported suspected breaches, on arrival, officers found that on the whole, people were observing the guidelines and regulations.

“There have been pockets where we have had to engage, explain and encourage people to stick to the rules, but we have only used enforcement as a last resort.”

Officials said that as expected, the Yorkshire Dales were busier as the first weekend under new Government travel and exercise guidance comes to an end.

Carl Lis, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “To everyone who followed the Government’s social distancing guidelines and showed respect to the land, the community and each other, I want to say thank you.

“It was great to see the vast majority of people taking this on board.

“Of course, there have been one or two exceptions and I would like to thank North Yorkshire and Cumbria police for their support in dealing with these.”

The agencies involved in leading the respond to the Covid-19 outbreak in North Yorkshire say they are continuing to monitor visitor levels and to plan for further action if that’s required as the Bank Holiday weekend approaches.