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23 March 2020 08:33

Rand Paul United States Senate Coronavirus

Coronavirus: People urged to stay away from Snowdonia

Crowded roads and summits have prompted Snowdonia National Park Authority to urge people to stay away. They said there were so many people on mountain summits on Saturday it was "impossible to maintain effective social distancing". The park shared this video clip to show the numbers out and about on Saturday, making it the "busiest ever visitor day in living memory". Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) chiefs have called on the Government to implement stricter controls following "unprecedented scenes" on Snowdon yesterday. The authority said it saw "its busiest ever visitor day in living memory" with visitors flocking to the area amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Now SNPA want trails and car parks shut to keep people away, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus and have asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for tighter measures. It comes as mountain rescuers warned they may not go out to help people, with yesterday "having an almost 'bank holiday' day" among the hills of North Wales. Mr Johnson has urged people not to undertake unnecessary travel and to keep a social distance, to help combat the spread of the disease. NPA Chief Executive Emyr Williams, said the numbers yesterday made it "impossible to maintain effective social distancing." "We are calling on the Prime Minister and First Minister of Wales to provide stronger measures on unnecessary travel and social distancing, to ensure that we do not see a repeat of y esterday's scenes across Snowdonia. "If no further steps are taken we will need to take drastic measures to protect the communities and health services in North Wales, such as shutting down car parks and trails.

He added: "Local businesses reliant on the tourism sector in Snowdonia have been leading the way in making brave decisions over the past few days despite the economic impact it will have on them. "This major influx to Snowdonia and North Wales in general has caused major concerns locally, with people worried about increased pressure on the NHS, rescue services, food supplies and visitor infrastructure, which is already under pressure due the pandemic. "In these challenging times the Snowdonia National Park Authority will focus all its effort, energy and resource in the coming days and weeks on looking after the communities and businesses in and around the National Park. A statement by the Mountain Rescue Association said: "We seem to have had an almost "bank holiday" day in the mountains and hills of North Wales. "Do not go to the hills and mountains if you have covid-19 or are self-isolating, if you do and need rescuing there's no guarantee we will be able to do so.

The National Trust has also closed its parks and gardens, asking people to avoid travel and comply with Government social distancing guidance. National park bosses in Snowdonia may have to close trails and car parks if the public fails to heed government advice to curtail travel. Snowdonia National Park Authority said the area had its busiest ever visitor day on Saturday, despite the coronavirus crisis. The authority's chief executive said crowding on mountain summits made it impossible to maintain the recommended social distancing and called on the UK and Welsh Governments to issue clearer advice on what constitutes essential travel. An authority spokesperson said: "Only 24 hours after the Prime Minister issued tighter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Snowdonia national park experienced its busiest ever visitor day in living memory yesterday.

"The national park authority in now calling on the government to institute clearer guidance and measures in order to ensure that the spread of the virus is slowed. Based on the unprecedented scenes in Snowdonia yesterday we fear that the current guidance is not explicit enough for people to protect themselves and others." Emyr Williams, chief executive of the Snowdonia National Park Authority said: "On Friday night the Prime Minister announced new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. More worrying still is the significant crowding on the mountain summits and trails making it impossible to maintain effective social distancing." The authority spokesperson said: "We are calling on the Prime Minister and First Minister of Wales to provide stronger measures on unnecessary travel and social distancing, to ensure that we do not see a repeat of yesterday's scenes across Snowdonia. "If no further steps are taken we will need to take drastic measures to protect the communities and health services in north Wales, such as shutting down car parks and trails. The spokesperson said local businesses reliant on tourism in Snowdonia have been leading the way in making brave decisions over the past few days despite the economic impact it will have on them.

"This major influx to Snowdonia and north Wales in general has caused major concerns locally, with people worried about increased pressure on the NHS, rescue services, food supplies and visitor infrastructure, which is already under pressure due the pandemic. "In these challenging times the Snowdonia National Park Authority will focus all its effort, energy and resource in the coming days and weeks on looking after the communities and businesses in and around the national park. Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team appealed to hillgoers to keep their activities within their capabilities, after its members had to go to the aid of a fallen climber on the Snowdon massif on Saturday. Team chairman Alun Allcock said: "Our advice remains unchanged: that if you head into the hills of Snowdonia you should have the ability to follow your route and be self-sufficient as much as practicable. "Our governing body, Mountain Rescue England and Wales have issued an updated statement today. "The advice is that if you are going to go out into the outdoors, you should walk, climb and cycle well within your capabilities so you are less likely to have to call on the services of a mountain rescue team." Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) called on the government to act after the area saw "unprecedented scenes" on Saturday which saw hundreds of people walking up Wales' highest mountain in what the park say was "the busiest visitor day in living memory". In a statement, the SNPA said they "fear that the current guidance is not explicit enough for people to protect themselves and others." Snowdonia was not the only beauty spot to see record numbers of visitors, Cumbria Police said the Lake District and other tourist hotspots in the UK were experiencing an "influx" of visitors. It comes as West Wittering Beach in Chichester, south-east England, closed to the public after the number of visitors on Saturday "far exceeded" expectations, the estate owners said. Emyr Williams, Chief Executive of the Snowdonia National Park Authority said: "We have experienced the busiest visitor day in living memory. In a statement on Saturday, Cumbria Police's assistant chief constable Andrew Slattery said: "Whilst we are looking at all measures to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, I must urge people living outside the county not to visit. "Cumbria County Council yesterday urged people to stay at home as far as possible to protect out NHS and save lives. I reiterate that advice and it is important that we all follow it." In a statement, Mr Slattery said public services within the county, located in north-west England, are resourced to serve its population of 500,000 and will be "stretched to breaking point" by the coronavirus pandemic. A man had to be rescued from a Snowdonia mountain after getting stuck. The team has urged people to stay at home and avoid going out on the hills if they show symptoms of Covid-19 - which include a fever and cough. The spokesman added: "The team would like to re-emphasise that people should observe current social distancing guidelines and not to go on the hills if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or are in your 14 day self isolating period. It comes as crowds have flocked to Snowdonia despite warnings from Boris Johnson for people to self-isolate and only travel if necessary. The North Wales Mountain Rescue Association - which represents the regions' six teams including OVMRO - has raised serious concerns about walkers taking to mountains, sparking unnecessary call-outs for them, with people urged to stick to familiar routes. Mountain rescue volunteers were deployed not knowing if either casualty could have symptoms of Covid-19. A statement has now been released by the national body, Mountain Rescue England and Wales, which says: "Resilience is a priority in order to ensure that as many volunteers are available to provide the rescue service. "People can greatly assist too, by answering honestly when asked about symptoms of Covid-19 by the Mountain Rescue Team Leaders and by not taking unnecessary risks when enjoying the outdoors. "Anyone who has the symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating because of exposure of Covid-19, should seriously consider the risks that they impose on the volunteers of the mountain rescue teams should they need and call for their assistance.