Monday 1st June 2020
Lake District locals plead for tourists to stay away

Cumbria has one of the worst Covid-19 infection rates in England, despite being one of its most sparsely populated counties. Locals feel threatened and believe this is due to visitors flocking to the picturesque lakes after weeks of lockdown measures were partially eased last week. 

RAC reports:

Residents near a popular Cumbrian beauty spot have set up makeshift barriers and road signs in a bid to ward off tourists they fear are flouting social distancing laws.

Visitors have flocked to the Lake District after weeks of lockdown measures were partially eased last week – but some concerned local villagers have responded by erecting plastic fences and industrial waste bins across roads.

DIY signs have cropped up in the area from disgruntled residents in an attempt to keep day-trippers from walking past their houses.

Notices reading “please stay away” and “no entry” have become a common sight around the village of Seathwaite. The tiny hamlet sits at the base of popular hiking spot Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, and normally welcomes thousands of visitors in the summer.

One sign claims the whole town of Keswick is closed, urging drivers to “please come back when we’re open”.

Cumbria has one of the worst Covid-19 infection rates in England, despite being one of its most sparsely-populated counties.

Pete Edmondson, who is missing part of his lung and suffered pneumonia as a child, is classed as ‘high risk’ and runs a farm in Seathwaite.

The 65-year-old’s family have run the business for 104 years in the village. “As soon as the coronavirus started we put up signs and barriers to stop people coming through the farmyard,” he said.

“But people have no respect, they've been taking no notice whatsoever. It's really upsetting.”

Mr Edmondson says walkers often come through his yard, touching gates and styles without washing their hands.

He added: “I find it very threatening, it keeps going through my mind that if I got Covid-19 it would kill me.”

Another local explained that visitors from the Midlands had knocked on their door while lost in the middle of the night last week.

Lake District tourist offices are concerned about the relaxation of rules, with Chief Executive Richard Leaf saying: “Please don't travel for the moment to the Lake District because of the impact that you will have on the local communities here.

“Cumbria already has a fairly high incidence of Covid, so there is real concern on the ground about large amounts of people coming back.”

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said: “Police officers will use their discretion and judgement in all situations and will engage with people, encouraging them to return home if appropriate.

“Officers will respond appropriately and will investigate concerns made by communities.”

With the new changes made to government guidelines during lockdown, it appears that many are left with uncertainty. Hopefully, as we move through all phases of lifting the lockdown rules things will become clearer and less strain will be placed on places such as Cumbria that do not have the measures in place to deal with large influxes of tourists. 

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