NORTH-East officials are pleading with residents to avoid beauty spots which are “our home not your playground” this weekend, following the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

The request comes after the latest mobility data released by Google, collected via location data, shows people have already been moving around.

The data is a snapshot of one day, May 2, which was before changes allowing unlimited exercise and shows increased activity in parks across the North-East. Changes in mobility are calculated using a baseline, which is a median value for the corresponding day of the week during January 3 and February 6, 2020 – before any coronavirus measures were put in place.

Officials are urging people to be mindful and continue to stay home despite relaxations, amid fears nice weather will see people flock to the countryside and seaside.

Google’s data reveals activity in Darlington parks has gone from -57 per cent on March 29 to just -17 per cent below the baseline on May 2.

The increase was similar in County Durham, increasing from -56 per cent.

Amanda Healy, director of public health at Durham County Council, said: “We have seen a real commitment in County Durham to stay at home and we would urge people to be mindful of the new guidance.

“It is vital we continue to respect social distancing guidelines and remain two metres away from people outside of our households when visiting parks and open spaces.”

Jenn Brown, 33, lives on Raisby Lane in Darlington. She said: “It is weird because I haven’t really been out or doing random things like popping to B&M or The Range, and my friends haven’t either so I can only assume traffic is reduced, but we have seen a massive increase in physical people.

“Parks are much busier because people are going out on purpose to walk instead of driving, but it’s difficult to compare because earlier in the year it was cold and dark.

“Living next to West Park, I’ve recently seen more family groups, whereas before it was just mum or dad taking the dog for a walk.”

Darlington Council says it has also been encouraging residents to abide by social distancing in its open parks.

Resident and liberal democrat Vicky Atkinson, who has concerns around schools, retailers and hospitality opening too soon, said: “Over the past few weeks there has been a visible increase in cars on the roads and people in public spaces. Whilst the governments message has changed to stay alert the deaths from Covid19 continue, so to me the message is still a little confusing.

“The public need clear guidance during times of crisis, yet confusing messages add to the risk. I have witnessed instances in Darlington of clear breaches of social distancing, and of groups of people taking a very relaxed approach to safety. “

North Yorkshire, home to the moors, has the lowest activity in parks at 48 per cent below the baseline, though an increase from -65 per cent.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said she understands the positive impact of the outdoors on mental and physical wellbeing, but warned toilets, shops and tourist information will remain closed.

She added: “Easing the stay at home message was never going to be easy. But now the rules have changed, it is clear we will have more visitors coming to tourist destinations across North Yorkshire.

“The new rules present serious challenges for enforcement to make sure visitors are from the same household, observing the rules and not putting communities they visit at risk.”

Ms Mulligan said the increase in footfall may put additional strain on emergency services such as the police, coastguard and mountain rescue, which are already under strain.

She added: “That is why my message to those thinking about travelling long distances to our tourist hotspots in the days and weeks ahead is to stop, think and then think twice.

“Please remember, North Yorkshire is our home not just your playground. We need to be alert to the risks of coming here, particularly overcrowding in beauty spots, and ask yourselves whether your journey and your visit helps or hinders efforts to control the virus.”

There are particular fears that destinations like Whitby and Scarborough could see an influx of visitors, resulting in North Yorkshire County Council shutting car parks and roads to allow pedestrians more space.

According to the data, activity at Stockton parks has almost returned to normal with a decrease of just 4 per cent from the baseline, compared to -60 per cent on March 29.

Redcar and Cleveland saw a decrease of just one per cent, compared to -63 previously, however there was not enough data for a full analysis.

Middlesbrough, where parks reopened on a trial basis last weekend, and Hartlepool parks both have around -27 per cent activity, up from -64 per cent.

Hartlepool Council will also keep coastal car parks closed in a bid to deter travellers attracted to the beach by good weather.

Council leader Shane Moore urged people to remember that Covid-19 is “still a very real threat” and to respect the safety of Hartlepool residents.

He added: “Our priority continues to be limiting the impact this vile virus has on our communities and our vulnerable residents and – with this in mind – we are politely asking visitors to stay away.”

Dr Patricia Riordan, the council’s public health director, reiterated Cllr Moore’s concerns, and added: “We must be absolutely clear that although there may have been a peak in London, elsewhere in the country – including here in Hartlepool – we are not out of danger yet.

“Unfortunately, Hartlepool’s trajectory has noticeably increased recently and cases are continuing to increase at a rate which would suggest we have not reached our peak.

“It’s for this reason we are having to urge visitors and day trippers to stay away.”