Police say people are still advertising holiday homes in Cumbria despite local and national advice for the public to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The adverts are continuing to attract holidaymakers to the county, says Cumbria’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery – and he warns that people who do travel here could face prosecution.
Visitors and holiday or second home owners who normally flock to the Lake District for the Easter bank holiday weekend are being urged to stay away this year. Tourism and national park leaders have taken the unprecedented step of asking all potential visitors not to come this Easter, with police and mountain rescue teams sending out the same message.
ACC Slattery said: “It is clear that holiday homes continue to be advertised in Cumbria and this is attracting holidaymakers. This causes friction with the resident population, who are reporting activity to the police and other local authorities. We recognise that some businesses have already withdrawn their advertisements and are not taking bookings and we ask others follow that lead.
“Travelling unnecessarily to another part of the country to stay in a holiday cottage is contrary to the guidance issued by the Government and could result in prosecution.
“This is serious and we need to protect ourselves, our families and to protect our NHS. This is not forever and it is a small price to pay for saving lives. I would appeal to everybody to remain calm and avoid seeking to blame other groups for the situation in which we find ourselves.
“Animosity between sections of the community is counter-productive and we all need to work together if we are to beat this virus. Please stick rigidly to the social distancing measures yourselves and leave the authorities to deal with those who do not. Officers will continue to be out in our communities providing advice and ensuring that people are complying with the law.”
His message was echoed by Cumbria Tourism’s president Eric Robson, who said: “Now is not the time to visit the Lake District, Cumbria. This will be an Easter like no other but we urge visitors and second home owners to listen to the Government and to stay in their main residence to protect lives. This is vitally important not only to limit the spread of the disease but also to safeguard Cumbria’s local health services and infrastructure, which may well come under immense pressure just servicing local residents’ needs. We look forward to welcoming people back to our glorious landscape but only when the time is right.”
Previous calls for visitors to stay away from the Lake District since the UK went into lockdown last month appear to be working, according to Richard Warren. He is chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association that represents the 12 Cumbrian mountain rescue teams, including Keswick.
He said: “We cannot stress enough the importance of staying at home. Apart from helping to save lives in the wider community, it will reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection to our volunteers during any rescue and helps reduce the workload on our NHS.
“Since the introduction of the stay at home policy 16 days ago, Cumbria teams have received just one 999 call for someone who got into difficulty on the mountain. In 2019 over the same 16-day period, our teams dealt with 28 callouts. These included 14 injuries and six medical emergencies. These would have required 20 ambulance requests and a similar demand on our A&E departments.”