NATIONAL Park bosses and rural residents are concerned at the numbers of people flocking to the countryside despite government advice to socially distance.

David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said it 'beggars belief' that so many people are thronging to small Dales towns and villages - ignoring government advice that people should stay at home to decrease the risks of spreading Covid-19.

On Friday, the Dales National Park Authority advocated people take active outdoor recreation alone or in small family groups, respecting social distancing with others and sticking to low risk, familiar activities and areas.

A spokesman said: "What happened on Saturday in parks, coastal resorts and rural locations across the UK was not social distancing or families sticking to low-risk activities and areas."

The Northern Echo:

David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

David Butterworth, chief executive of the Authority said: “What we’ve seen today in so many towns and villages in the National Park simply beggars belief.

"The number of people coming to the area today and acting so irresponsibly at a time of national crisis cannot be acceptable.

"If people chose to come here and ignore government advice regarding social distancing, then I would suggest they do not travel to the Yorkshire Dales at all and stay at home.

“This appears to be the only way to better ensure the safety of all our residents and in particular key workers who live in the National Park, who we need to be fit to support the fight against this dangerous virus.

“Thank you.”

The North York Moors National Park has cancelled or postponed all communal National Park events, exhibitions, school visits and other activities planned to take place in the Moors until May 31.

It has closed all its visitor centres and all guided walks run by the National Park have also been cancelled/postponed between this period. 

A spokesman said: "We are constantly reviewing all government advice and will provide further updates accordingly."

Masham resident Susan Briggs, who runs The Tourism Network for Dales and Moors businesses, pleaded with tourists to stay away and think of the wider risk their trips can pose.

She said: “There are three main points; one is they are contributing to the general spread of the virus, two, they are putting more pressure on local medical services which are few and far between in the Dales, and three, farmers are lambing now and if they get poorly, livestock will die and affect food supplies.

The Northern Echo:

Susan Briggs who runs The Tourism Network

“And if visitors have stripped local shops, those farmers who only have minutes to spare to go to the shop have to go without.”

Ms Briggs said most tourism businesses, particularly accommodation providers have taken the difficult decision to close in the interests of wider public health.

She suggested that tourists still contact them and buy vouchers for stays, thus helping their cash flow and giving small tourism businesses confidence for the future post-Covid-19.