North Yorkshire Police urge day trippers to stay home as almost half of lockdown fines given to non residents

Ahead of the good weather expected this weekend, North Yorkshire Police is again stressing the importance of staying home and continuing the fight against coronavirus.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 1:37 pm
Updated Friday, 24th April 2020, 1:42 pm

Sadly, over previous weekends, the force has seen an increase in the number of people making unnecessary journeys into and around the region.

In response to the growing number of people who are choosing to ignore the Government guidance and head to the dales, moors or coast for a day trip, North Yorkshire Police will be increasing their patrols and key routes will be monitored for signs of increased traffic and visitors to the area.

Over 350 fixed penalty notices have been issued since the new coronavirus legislation was introduced in March and nearly half of those (48%) have been issued to non-residents who are coming into North Yorkshire, to visit an open space or beauty spot.

Day trippers have been visiting the county's beauty spots in lockdown. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard Ponter

Particularly affected is the Craven region, where 65 of the 66 notices issued have been to visitors to the area.

Speaking about the recent influx of day-trippers to North Yorkshire, Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “Usually we welcome visitors to North Yorkshire with open arms. However, for the sake of the health and safety of both the region and the nation, we are asking you to please stay away for the time being.

“We are aware of confusion that has arisen over the guidance around travelling for exercise and can understand that many people are looking for clarity around this issue.

"I believe the guidance issued by the UK Government couldn’t be clearer – to stop the spread of this potentially lethal virus, to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, our loved ones and our health service – we must all stay at home."

Assistant Chief Constable Walker said the virus moves when people move and they should thus limit movement to the very essential.

He cited a group of friends travelling from West Yorkshire to climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks and a group of people travelling into the Yorkshire Dales from Bradford for a day out as examples of non-essential travel, and said exercise should be taken locally.

He continued: “Please believe me, I understand how important exercise is to people’s mental health. However, exercise can be taken from your doorstep and there is no reasonable or justifiable need to make a 50-mile trip to the coast, putting your own safety and the safety of others at risk.

"Not only that, by travelling long distances into unknown areas, you increase your chances of a road traffic collision, or needing emergency or medical assistance – all of which puts a strain on resources which should be focused on fighting Covid-19.

"That’s why our officers will be patrolling this weekend and continuing to engage, explain and encourage the public to do the right thing. Where needed, they will resort to enforcement to protect the public.

“So, I would urge you to stop and think before you pick up your car keys and head out the door - is your journey necessary and essential? Is it for food, medication or to support a vulnerable person? If the answer is no – then stay at home."

Chair of North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, Richard Flinton, said: “For those who still think a drive into our countryside is just the ticket on a warm spring day then our message is very clear.

"If you flout the national lockdown rules you may receive the ticket you didn’t want – by way of a fine.

"We are working really hard to educate people, but ultimately you risk a penalty and we are looking at further visibility along key routes, to drive the message home to the minority who aren’t sticking to the rules.

“Because the sun is up it doesn’t mean the virus is not every bit as deadly. Anyone can carry it, anyone can spread it and it is indiscriminate in who it hits hardest.

“Please stay at home and exercise if possible from your doorsteps, because a fine is not the only thing you risk if you don’t follow the guidance.”

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