The Peak District National Park Authority is urging people to think twice before visiting the area, ahead of the new government guidance coming into effect on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that people in England will be able to drive as far as they like to outdoor open spaces for unlimited exercise as of 13 May.
In a lengthy statement, Peak District National Park Authority chief executive Sarah Fowler said: “It is no surprise that as we take the first steps in the easing of ‘lockdown’ in this time of unprecedented national crisis, many of us turn to our national parks as a place of sanctuary.
“Across almost seven decades – and a past that has rarely seen anything of the magnitude of the coronavirus – our national parks have never been more relevant to the country’s need for health, wellbeing and connection with nature, beauty and history.
“While we may need our national parks at this time, our relationship with them remains precariously balanced with the current risks to everyone from Covid-19.
“So as we prepare to welcome you back, let us draw upon that remarkable sense of respect, kindness and humanity we have seen so far in our fight against this disease.
“This is why I am personally appealing today to anyone seeking to travel to the Peak District National Park.
“Before your journey, please carefully consider your own well-being and that of the Peak District’s many small communities – and be aware that the vast majority of facilities including hospitality businesses will be not be open for a little while yet.
“Continuing to use local parks and outdoor areas close to your home can continue to provide the crucial breathing space for you and for us, to ensure the Peak District can be a safe and welcoming place to visit in the weeks to come.
“In this way we can ensure we don’t place undue pressure on public highways, emergency access or key workers.
“With around 2,000 Covid-19 cases across Derbyshire alone and local services and resources already fighting on a significant front, is it vital that we limit the impacts on our residential towns and villages wherever possible.
“With a huge collective effort in respecting our national parks right now, they can be protected and will be there for us all to enjoy far beyond this current coronavirus crisis, including a responsible and vital return for our tourism sector.
“Those who live and work in our communities are already working hard to ensure there will be a warm welcome so our National Park can equally be enjoyed safely by everyone.”
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