Coronavirus: Don’t visit the Peak District unless ‘absolutely necessary’, bosses plead as crowds flout social distancing advice

Peak District chiefs have pleaded with visitors not to travel to the national park unless 'absolutely necessary’ during the coronavirus crisis – after weekend crowds flocked to beauty spots, flouting guidance on social distancing.

By Richard Blackledge
Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 3:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 7:53 pm

“The Peak District National Park has seen extremely high numbers of visitors in recent days,” a statement said on Sunday, March 22.

“The government has been clear on the need to avoid unnecessary contact with others to maintain the social distancing measures that are vital for us all to help reduce the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important that we all consider our social responsibilities to help tackle this outbreak, and as government advice states, travel should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. This is no more important than in the Peak District, which is a living and working landscape and community for many thousands of people.

“These are unprecedented times for us all, and this situation remains fast-moving, complex and challenging.

“If your visit to the National Park is not absolutely necessary, please consider alternative green spaces closer to home.

“Working together we can all help during this coronavirus crisis and the National Park, our businesses and communities will be ready to welcome everyone when it is once again safe to do so.”

Chatsworth has shut its garden to support efforts aimed at curbing the spread of deadly Covid-19, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park has closed and gated National Trust spaces – which were initially going to be kept open – are locked up too.

A Cabinet minister has warned the Government will look at "other options" if people ignore advice on social distancing.

Matlock Bath on Sunday, March 22. Picture: Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said people need to realise it "isn't a game", after reports of crowds flocking to seaside resorts at the weekend.

He told Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: "It is very serious.

"People need to follow that (medical) advice. If people don't follow that advice then clearly we'll have to consider other options, but none of us want to go down that route."

Mr Jenrick said people can still go out for walks and take exercise, but they should stay away from others.