Yorkshire landowners urge everyone to stay at home this weekend

Organisations who own or manage land across Yorkshire are urging the public not to travel to popular recreation sites, as by doing so they put themselves and other people at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Many locations, including lakes, reservoirs and national parks, have seen a surge in visitors as people seek to make the most of government guidance that they can leave their homes to exercise once a day.

However, the large number of people visiting beauty sites is making it impossible for government guidance on social distancing, including the recommended distance to be maintained between individuals, to be followed. The number of visitors also risks the health of local residents and key workers who are already at these locations.

There is also concern that an increased risk of wildfires as a result of these visits, or injury in remote locations, may generate additional work for emergency services at what is already a challenging time.

Several major organisations, including the National Trust, Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Peak District National Park, have closed their car parks at recreation sites and nature reserves and are urging people not to make a trip to any of these normally popular sites.

Police forces are also urging people to exercise near their homes and in their own gardens where possible rather than travelling in their vehicles, and are conducting vehicle checkpoints to ask the purpose of a journey.

Mike Innerdale, National Trust’s Regional Director for the North, said: “As organisations involved in managing popular recreation locations, we are asking the public to exercise near their home rather than travelling to popular locations where they are likely to come into close proximity with other people. We, and lots of other organisations, have closed our countryside car parks, alongside our houses, gardens, shops and cafes, and we will consider opening them again as soon as it is safe for people to travel. Now is not that time.”

Richard Emmott, Director of Corporate Affairs at Yorkshire Water, added: “At this time of uncertainty all areas of society have a responsibility to ensure that our emergency services do not face additional challenges. By closing our car parks we hope to stop incidents at our recreation spots, and also help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The Peak District National Park Authority is urging outside visitors not to travel to the Peak District at all during Government measures on coronavirus.

A spokesman said: “All our visitor facilities are closed. Protect our emergency services and save lives. Please, stay at home.”