“Travel to open spaces, but not the mountains.”

That is the message of the chairman of the Lake District Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association Richard Warren, as he responded to the Government’s easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions from today.

“The Government is actually clear people do need to go out and exercise and we fully support that and support low level walks.

“The problem is with those going up high mountains who are putting our teams at risk.

“Even if they don’t have symptoms they could still be infected. Our team members have got to accept risks.

“They will have to stop 2m away from the casualty dressed in PPE (personal protective equipment), asking them questions which is very difficult to do when it is windy and raining. Masks don’t work in wet weather. We will be dressed in waterproofs even if it is sunny.”

Mr Warren is keen for the number of callouts to remain low, as many mountain rescue volunteers have full-time jobs in the NHS or as police officers.

“In the last 50 days the callouts have been 10 per cent of what we would have normally. We don’t want a rush of visitors to the Lake District as there is not the infrastructure to cope. The car parks are closed, the toilets are closed, and so on.”

There is a fear among mountain rescue volunteers that differing coronavirus restrictions in other UK nations may lead to an influx of visitors to the area who want to climb one of the highest mountains.

“People can travel in England, but they can’t go to Wales or Scotland, so we fear people with come to the Lake District in their thousands," said Mr Warren.

“We want to get the message out that we want people to exercise, but people have to use their common sense and realise that by climbing a mountain you risk the lives of the teams, who have to put themselves at risk and their families at risk.”

The advice by Cumbria police and Cumbria Tourism asking people not to visit the Lake District, is a message backed up by the mountain rescue teams.

“We agree the Lake District is not ready for it. Our message is the same: the mountain rescue teams are not ready for a surge in tourists. We worry there will be more people having pulled muscles, broken ankles and more mountain bikers having accidents.

“We can’t afford to have volunteers - as much as they want to help - be infected. If one person in one of the mountain rescue teams becomes infected, it means the whole team becomes quarantined for 14 days.

“If we have team members infected, that is people taken out of the NHS. I don’t think the general public realises that. Our biggest fear is we become inundated with visitors to the Lake District.”