THE Lake District is closed!

That's the blunt message from Cumbria Police today a week after a significant number of day trippers arrived in Lakeland in defiance of advice that social distancing is necessary if the NHS is to cope with rising numbers of coronavirus patients.

Thousands of tourists descended on the Lake District last week, heightening fears that they may unwittingly have accelerated the spread of the virus.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Rob O’Connor said: “Last weekend we saw significant amounts of tourists travel to the Lake District, and my message is really simple, the Lake District is closed.

“Pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed, and we do not want to see people travelling to the Lakes in caravans and camper vans or driving many miles in their cars to go walking on the fells.

“The Government guidance is really clear in relation to personal movements to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

Under the restrictions, people must stay at home and only leave for the following reasons:

• to exercise once a day – either alone or with members of your household

• shopping for basic necessities, although this should be done as little as possible

• medical need or to provide care for a vulnerable person

• travel to or from work but only where this is absolutely necessary

Temporary Chief Superintendent Rob O’Connor added: “It is really clear that people should not be travelling unless there is an essential reason to do so.

"It does not mean on nice days you can drive into the Lakes and go walking, or ride your motorbike to Devils Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale.

“I still want my officers to engage, explain and encourage the public in relation to the restrictions that are in place. There is now legislation that means people can be fined for breaching the restrictions, but my preference is that my officers do not need to resort to doing so, and that the public show common sense and do not travel into the Lakes.

“Over the weekend people will see my officers in the Lakes and the Kirkby Lonsdale areas, and they can expect to be stopped and asked whether their travel is essential.

“As we saw on Thursday evening there was an outpouring of support nationally for the NHS, and people need to ensure they follow the Government guidance and restrictions in these unprecedented times to ensure we do not overburden the NHS.”